My son, now 5, was a baby, any food we gave him, he happily devoured. Then, around 2, he started resisting foods and we chalked it up to a phase. Fast forward 3 years and I’ve got one picky little eater on my hands. Here is some info, facts, tips and tricks if you have one, too!
What is Picky Eating?
- Not wanting to try or eat new foods
- Only eating one or two kinds of foods
- Not seeming interested in eating
- Refusing certain textures or colors
If you’re a parent to a child like this, you may be worried about whether or not they are getting the foods and nutrients they need. You should talk with your doctor, who can give you the guidelines on the right amounts of each food for your child. Once you are armed with that info, your goal is to build meals that get these foods to your child and hopefully have them eat them!
You can start small with these goals, but knowing what to aim for is important, especially with caloric intake, fruits, vegetables and protein intake. When planning a meal for your child, try to include foods from the major food groups – Veggies, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, and Dairy. Remember, whole foods are always better than processed foods.
Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater
1. Try to get your child to try new things by combining them with foods they already like. For example, if your child likes Grilled Cheese, start with some shredded carrot in with the cheese. Sneakiness is encouraged.
2. DO respect your child’s appetite. We never force our son to eat. Forcing a meal can promote anxiety about mealtimes. Some children have small appetites.
3. Routine, Routine, Routine. Keep meal times consistent so that your child gets used to the spacing between meals/ snacks.
4. No distractions. Turn off the TV, smartphone, tablet or any other device. If your child is focused on the TV, they are not going to be focused on getting through the meal.
5. Familiar Foods. Decrease anxiety at mealtimes by including at least one food you know your child likes on the plate. Sets up better for trying new things.
6. Offer choices. Allow your child to pick between foods to try, giving him/her a sense of independence and control about trying something new.
7. Two Bites! When trying something new, encourage just two bites. If they can take TWO bites of a new food, give them a hand. Sometimes that first bite is an automatic no because it’s new and different. The second may not be so bad. Once a child has taken two bites of a food, try for three or four the next time. Make a little game out of it.
8. Condiments can be a great way to get your child to try some new foods. Ketchup, dressing etc. There are some healthy, homemade options out there for condiments that won’t leave you feeling like you’re masking nutrition. For example, I make a Yogurt Ranch Dressing that tastes great. Recipe coming soon!!
9. Vitamins and Supplements. Discuss with your child’s doctor if he/she needs any additional nutrients or vitamins based on what their diet consists of.
10. Be Patient. You can’t turn a picky eater around overnight. It will take time and often years. Introduce new foods one at a time, don’t overwhelm your child. If your child resists a food 1x, try again a few times. Talk about the food he/she is trying to help them get used to trying new tastes and textures.
So what are some ways to make trying these new foods FUN?
1. Decorate Pita Pizzas with Fruit, Veggies to make fun designs or faces.
2. Use Cookie Cutters to make fun shapes out of sandwiches or vegetables.
3. Breakfast for dinner!
4. Make healthy smoothies by blending fruits and vegetables.
5. Let your child help you cook. Name a dish you create together!
Do you have a picky eater? What are some ways you encourage him/her to eat?