At one time or another, most kids will go through a picky eater phase. They go from trying foods, to shoving them away. They start saying “I don’t like that”, before even trying the food. As a parent, this can become frustrating. It is easy to label your child a picky eater and start changing a lot of eating habits. All parents need to find what works for your family, but here are a few tips that we use in our home to keep our kiddos eating habits in check.
I want to start by saying this. Offer a child the same thing at least 10 times. The first time they might not even touch it. The second time they might squish it around a bit. The third they might take a bite and spit it out. The forth they might do the same. The fifth they might finally recognize it and eat some…. You get it… Each new food is a learning process. How many of us liked broccoli from the day we were born? I didn’t like it until I was an adult, but it is one of my son’s favorite veggies! It wasn’t the first time he tried it… Try these tips with your picky eater.
1. Low Pressure ~ Low Praise
This one is exactly how it sounds. We don’t sit and yell and scream for our youngest (she’s 2) to try her food. Try to suggest that they try it. If they refuse, which happens, teach them you expect a “no, thank you”. At least they are learning manners right! We also don’t go crazy if she actually tries it. It should seem expected and normal for them to eat what is on their plate, so don’t make it a big deal. Then they think there was some reason they maybe shouldn’t want it!
2. No Special Meals ~ Cook for your family
I refuse to make a separate meal for my kids. They eat what the family eats. Our youngest has been eating our dinners since she started solid foods. Sometimes I deconstruct her meal. Example: She has cheese, meat, avocado, beans, & corn when we have nachos. I do this for my husband too, sometimes he has a taco salad. Still the same meal, I was the queen of not wanting my food to touch growing up. Just remember to cook for your family. So don’t make things that are well past your children’s taste buds.
3. Small Portions
This one is very important to me. I think that portions are out of control for children and adults. I don’t like to feed my kids outrageous mountains of food. I give a small portion of everything that is for dinner. My goal is for them to be able to clear their plate and not waste food. At a certain age that works for your family, you may have them finish their first helping before having more of other foods, or at least required to try it, can be inserted into your routine. The fight over “can I be done yet” happens a lot less with this method.
4. Do not set them up for failure ~ One new item max per meal
Do not put a plate full of all new things in front of a kid and expect them to be excited about it. The first time a kid sees something new most of the time they have decided they don’t like it before even trying it. So make sure to only bring one new food item per meal. That way they can try it and move on to something they know they like. If after presenting the same food multiple times, they have actually tried it a few times and they say they don’t like it, that’s OK! They will not learn to like everything. Do you like everything?… Exactly. I still won’t eat baked beans and J won’t either.
5. Be Consistent
It is up to you to ultimately decide what your expectations are for your kiddos. Age can play a big factor. J (7yrs) knows he has to at least try everything on his plate. V (2yrs) eats at her own pace still. The main thing is to stay consistent. Once your kiddos know your expectations, they will learn not to constantly question you or throw a fit at the table.
Dinner time is family time at our house. We like to fill the table with pleasant conversation, not eat your dinner battles. These tips have helped us keep it that way. We are still in the midst of my daughter’s picky eater phase, but I have to admit on the 4th try of edamame and she ate them all and asked for more. It took quite a few times of having cooked carrots, now she will have a few. Just keep with it. Eating habits are learned at a young age. Do you have any tricks or tips that you use in your home? Let us know in the comments below!!
We tell our kiddos that they have to stay at the table until Mommy and Daddy are done eating. They may complain about what’s in front of them, but sometimes just sitting at the table gets them eating a few more bites. But we never force them to continue eating.
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