Anyone who has followed me on my blog for any length of time, knows I have a few picky kids, and I also happen to have the pickiest kid I’ve ever met in my life. So do you have a picky eater in your family? If you do, there are a few tips that can help. It is also really nice to know, that most children do learn to love more foods as they get older.
Tips for Picky Eaters
1. It is important to remember that most children cannot possibly eat as much as we as adults do. They have small stomachs, and do better with extremely small portions. If you are interested in getting them to try new things, keep the portions very small and allow them to ask for more. Serving meals on little sectioned plates (like a bento box) can be perfect, because it helps keep the portions down, but looks appealing to the child.
2. My best tip, is to allow the children to help you plan out your meals, help make the grocery list and then allow them to go shopping with you. If you allow them to help choose their food, they are more apt to eat it. Allowing children a bit older to help prepare the meal can make a huge difference in what they eat as well.
3. Allow plenty of choices. Everyone needs a little control over their food, and if you allow them to have some power over what they eat, they won’t be as likely to turn their noses up to it. When trying to get them to eat vegetables, it might be helpful to ask them which they would prefer… carrots, green beans or corn. If they get to choose it, they will probably at least eat some of it.
4. Texture aversion is a common problem for picky eaters. Often it is not how something tastes, it’s more about how it feels in their mouth. Many adults do not like the texture of tapioca pudding (I am not one of them, I actually like it). Try serving the food in a different way – perhaps placing bananas in a smoothie or adding well chopped nuts to a muffin or pureeing a vegetable or fruit and putting it in a normal recipe. (check out Missy Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef which is one of my favorite books EVER).
5.When you do decide to eat out, try eateries that offer a wide variety of different types of food. Buffet restaurants work very well for picky eaters. It allows them freedom of choice over what they eat, and in addition, you can encourage them to try something new that they might not have otherwise eaten. Also, when your entree arrives, offer your child a bite of something new on your plate.
6. Do not allow your children to have a snack within about an hour and a half to two hours before you eat dinner. This will actually ensure they are hungry and might be more willing to eat what is being offered. The same goes for beverages – when you are allowing them to drink juice or milk before mealtime, this can often lead to fuller bellies. Limit both food and drink intake before meals.
7.When children are allows to have snacks, try offering them healthy, nutritional choices. Veggies with dip or a bowl of fruit are perfect choices and encourage your children to make better choices as they get older. Also cutting things into smaller pieces can make eating fun. Try a hamburger patty cut into strips, or cheese cubes, or ham cut into bite sized pieces. Making anything into finger foods makes it easier to eat, and more likely to be fun. It’s a great way to introduce new items to their diet.
8. Peer pressure is a terrible thing, but every so often it has its benefits. Often your child might be curious about foods that a friend is consuming. My own picky eater went off to summer camp last summer having NEVER eaten a cheeseburger in her life. Guess what? Yep… she ate them and has eaten them several times since. She didn’t want to feel weird or different by not eating what her friends were eating, and so she tried it.
9. It is fine to allow your child choices at mealtime, but don’t going turning the kitchen into a restaurant. I admit, I did for awhile. I prepared more than one meal a night because Miss Picky wouldn’t try or eat anything. I finally got tired of it, and just began making sure that there were at least one or two things served with dinner that she would eat, and prepared whatever else we all wanted. She was welcome to try it. I did eventually just begin serving her very small portions of whatever I made, and she would try them. Often going back for seconds.
10. Do not approach meal time as a negative time. Keep the struggles for later, and about more important things. Mealtime can be fun and stress free, if you allow it to be. Just be positive and encouraging but not overwhelming.