As a parent, one of your main instincts is to ensure that your child is eating adequate amounts of healthy food. But what if your child refuses? What if all they want is hot dogs and kraft dinner? Eating something is better than eating nothing, but you cringe every time they take a bite knowing how non-nutritional it is!
If you have a picky eater on your hands, it will usually become obvious as the child transitions to solid foods. There are many new flavours, colours, and textures for them to explore. I mean, they’ve been eating milk or formula for their whole life! For a child that craves consistency, navigating this new world of taste can be overwhelming. Every time you put a new food in front of them, you wait with baited breath to see if they will love it or if it will end up on the floor.
As a parent, seeing the meal you slaved over end up on the floor can be very upsetting. Almost as upsetting as knowing that your child is getting inadequate nutrition. So if you are currently dealing with a picky eater, don’t stress! There are quite a few things you can do to help your child develop a wider palate. Read on to learn more!
How to Help Your Picky Eater
1) The best thing you can do is to provide a wide variety of foods in a happy, light-hearted environment. By ensuring that mealtime is a positive time, the stress of eating will be kept to a minimum.
2) Try to develop a regular eating schedule of 3 meals and 2 snacks every single day. Most often, picky eaters are “grazers”, that enjoy eating small amounts throughout the day instead of meals. By ensuring the meals are placed at times when your child is most hungry, you will increase the chances of them eating lots of food.
3) Introduce foods one at a time and in very small amounts. Filling a plate with new foods might cause a lot of stress and anxiety for your child. By introducing the foods slowly, you increase your chances of having a successful hit.
4) Minimize distractions around the dinner table. Turn off the TV, and ensure everyone stays at the table until the meal is over. Seeing their older sibling run around after dinner (while they are still stuck sitting with a plate of corn in front of them) is not conducive to good eating habits! They will associate that food with the feelings they had while sitting at the table.
5) Resist the urge to offer candy to your toddler as a reward for finishing their meal. This can work temporarily, but will only lead to temper-tantrums and a sense of entitlement later on in life. You want to develop your child’s sense of culinary adventure, not her sweet tooth.
6) Blend whichever food your child doesn’t like into other foods. If they hate spinach, make them a strawberry banana smoothie with spinach! If they hate cauliflower, blend it into mashed potatoes. They will never know!
Best of luck with your picky eater! Let us know:
Do you have any tips or tricks for helping a picky eater expand their palate?
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