While the majority of children will go through a stage of being a “picky eater”, there are some children that struggle with it all the time. It can be incredibly frustrating as the parent to convince your child to try something other than cheerios or peanut butter sandwiches. However, giving in to their demands will not help the situation in the future. Next time you are dealing with your picky eater, give these suggestions a try.
- Don’t tell them what it is until they try it – Sometimes just the name of the food is enough to make children not want to try it. If they try it before they know what it is there is a bigger chance they might like it. My daughter tried venison before she realized it was deer meat and loved it. Had she known what it was, she never would have tried it.
- Make it a habit – Develop a routine of trying new foods. Pick one day each week that the entire family tries something they haven’t had before. This is a great way to introduce new foods, and you will be able to set a good example for your child by trying new things right along with them.
- Let them choose – Take your child to the grocery store with you. Walk through the produce section and show them all of the different types of fruits and vegetables. Talk about the different colors, textures, and smells. Talk about what the fruit might look like once you open it up. Allow them to pick out something they want to take home and try.
- Connect it with a movie – My family likes to enjoy family movie night. We pick out a movie that we are going to watch together and then I create a surprise menu with food items that relate to the movie, or I create names for items that are movie themed. I print out simple homemade menus showing what we will be eating and google a picture to include on the front. Let’s use the new movie Moana as an example. You could create a menu using items like fish and coconuts so your child can try the foods that Moana’s people were eating.
- Don’t give in – After a long day the last thing you want to do is have a 30 minute argument with a crying 3 year old that doesn’t want to eat meatloaf for dinner. It is tempting to give in once your head starts to pound and make a whole separate meal for the picky eater while the rest of the family eats what you had originally planned. While doing that will stop the tears for the evening, it will create a pattern that is going to be hard to break. Not to mention, it waste your time and blows your food budget when you start making multiple meals to cater to each person’s requests. Put the meal in front of them and if they are hungry they can eat it. If they choose not to eat it, pediatricians across the country will assure you that they will not starve. When a child is hungry, they will eat.
Choose your battles. If there is a healthy item that your child likes, do your best to keep it on hand. Do not make every meal and every snack a battle by trying to force them to eat food they don’t like or haven’t tried.