All parents are familiar with their kids shoving their veggies to the side, or refusing to eat their dinner without even tasting it. Kids can have a variety of eating challenges, and parents often find it hard to know how to handle these behaviours. If you have a child who turns their nose up to most of the food you give them, it would help you to learn how to deal with a picky eater.
It is estimated that it takes children up to 10 or more exposures to develop a proper taste for new foods, so while developing these new tastes, here is how to get a picky eater to eat their food:
Have Set Meal and Snack Times
You need to set meal and snack times to follow each day and make sure to follow through. If you skip lunchtime and let your toddler go straight to their snack, they will learn this behaviour and take advantage of it. Establish your routine with eating, and make your expectations clear as well. Your child will learn that meals and snacks happen at the same time each day, and that’s when you will be preparing food. Eventually, your child will actually be hungry at this time and eat the food you give them. It is also highly recommended to eat together as a family. If they see you eating, they will eat as well.
Don’t Give Options For Dinner
Don’t offer to cook each family member their own personalized menu each night. Cook a meal that offers your child a variety of food on their plate, and let them eat what they want from there. You can include food that you know your child will not eat, but do not let them have the say on what everyone else should eat.
Try New Foods In Different Ways
When you introduce a new food to your child and they don’t like it, try to introduce it differently. For example, if your child doesn’t like the roasted butternut you have served them for dinner, you can try to make butternut fritters or butternut mash. This also helps to rotate the types of food you are offering them. Doing this prevents them from getting sick of a certain type of food.
Get Your Kids Cooking
If your child is old enough, you should get them involved in the kitchen. Have them also be involved with choosing dinner as well. You could even start a vegetable garden at home, and have your child gather veggies to use for dinner. When your child is involved in cooking dinner, they will be more likely to actually eat the food they make.
Don’t Give In
Don’t just give up the first time your child refuses to eat broccoli. Try again. If you don’t try to offer foods again, your child will never develop a taste for them. It pays off to be persistent. Just remember to keep calm when introducing new foods and never be forceful. You could also keep a sticker chart as an incentive for them to work towards a reward through eating. Be confident that you now know how to deal with a picky eater, and stick it out until they are happy trying new foods!