Are you tired of repeating yourself when talking to your child about eating their food? You make a tasty meal and there it is, left on the plate as you served it, but now cold. Not only is this frustrating but you feel helpless after tons of rejection to a healthy meal.
I’m here to tell you, you are not alone! In fact, research shows 20% of parents with kids between the ages 2 to 5 have a picky eater. But don’t throw in the towel just yet, there’s good news. Most of these picky eaters outgrow this by the time they start school. Yey! (there’s hope)
So hang in there mommies and in the meantime here are the most effective ways to handle a picky eater.
Don’t ask but give him options. A common mistake we do is ask our child what does he want to eat? Instead name a few options for him to choose from. Whether serving veggies or anything new, try bright colors such as orange (carrots) or red (tomatoes) and make them feel as though they are choosing what they want. When in reality either one they pick is a winner. Also be flexible with the portions at first.
Let him help in the kitchen. Whether its stirring the pancake mix or the seasoned potatoes. Make them feel part of meal making and surely they’ll come around trying what they “made”.
Don’t pressure or bargain. (Another big mistake) While you give him new food, avoid pressuring him to try it. Instead let them know what the food is good for. I tend to add it helps him be big and strong like daddy. My son loves to hear that. Bargaining for example, “If you don’t eat your veggies you won’t get dessert.” This makes them feel as though it’s a punishment instead of encouraging to try new things.
Set a schedule. This works for those that love snacking all day, assuring they get the meal balance they need. It is recommended to stick to 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.
Make meal time fun. Try cookie cutters for shaping the food or color coordinating. Making shapes is also fun. Make up silly stories about the food while they eat. Kids have a big imagination so whatever you do, get creative.
Set a good example. Kids love copying the things adults do so use this to your advantage. Let them see you eat the food often.
Don’t cook a separate meal. I regret this big time. With my first born I cooked a separate meal just because I knew he would eat it. Instead be consistent serving something new along with something they already like. Making him a separate meal will only make it more difficult for him to grow out of picky eating.
Don’t negotiate. Doing so will lead to a power struggle. Which can be very frustrating with no positive results. Instead place the meal in front of them and let them decide. Studies shows picky eaters need to get a food 5 to 10 times before they actually eat more of it. (Patience will come in handy here)
Simply not hungry. After the age of 2, you may notice he may not have much appetite on certain days. As long as their height and weight is in the acceptable rage for his age, you shouldn’t worry.
And if you are concerned about your child’s nutrition, don’t hesitate to speak to his pediatrician.
As I mentioned before, most children outgrow this behavior by the time school starts. So in the meantime–don’t make a fuzz about it. It’s a phase that will pass.
Don’t forget to praise them for trying new food!
Till next time mommies,