Children are known to be very picky about food. While this is an everyday battle for most parents, not many know how to get their kids to eat without turning to junk food. Toddlers quickly develop food preferences and this process can be unpredictable and sometimes frustrating. When your child is a picky eater, there are certain things you can do as a parent to help your child try new things and get the nutrition they need.
The key to helping your kid have a healthy and positive relationship with food is patience and consistency. It’s common for toddlers to have favorite foods that they can’t get enough of and then suddenly, change to something else. This is pretty common since toddlers feel comfortable with routines. New textures, flavors, colors, and smell on foods are usually rejected by picky eaters. In this article, Tiniciti Preschool will share some insight to parents who have children picky with food.
Don’t force your child to eat
As we previously stated, toddlers and small children aren’t too open to trying new foods. Your job as a parent is to provide food for your kid, but the decision to eat it is on them. After the first birthday, a child’s growth velocity slows down drastically. This means that a toddler’s hunger is fickle. It’s normal for kids to eat a lot in a day and not much the next. Children pretty much need the energy to run around and play. With this in mind, try not to keep your kid in the table for more than 30 minutes.
As a parent, you’re the one in control of the quality of the food you offer to them. Provide your kid with plenty of healthy food choices. When you force a child to eat, you risk them getting an aversion to said food. Kids don’t know (nor care) about nutrition. They’ll eat what tastes good for them, so you’ll have to get creative sneaking in the fruits and veggies they need. Remember that with time, kid’s appetite and eating habits change, so don’t get discouraged if your kid is adamant about not eating anything green for now.
Make meals a family time activity
Humans are social animals who enjoy eating together. Sharing a meal as a family not only provides an opportunity for bonding but also sets an example of healthy eating habits. It’s crucial you don’t have distractions such as TV or cellphones at the table. Kids imitate adults, if your child sees you eating your meal without picking it apart, playing with it or getting distracted, they’ll be encouraged to do the same.
Serve a meal for the entire family with a good amount of variety. Resist the urge to fix something else if your child doesn’t like it. If you do, you’re conditioning your child to make a fuss each time they want to eat something else. Make sure you include at least one food your child really likes with each meal and continue to provide them with balanced meals, whether they eat it or not.
It’s okay if your child only eats one thing and leaves the rest. Eventually, they’ll understand you’re not a restaurant and if they’re hungry they’ll have to eat what you prepared.
Don’t bribe your kid with junk food
The idea is to keep your kid away from an unhealthy relationship with food. If your kid isn’t cooperating with you, bribing them won’t be as effective as you might think. You want to keep your child from thinking about mealtime as a chore. Furthermore, you’re still adding junk and sugary foods to their diet which is something you want to keep to a minimum. While we don’t encourage you to stop your kid from eating anything sweet ever, there are healthier alternatives to kids’ favorites.
Lead by example
You can’t expect your kid to love broccoli if they never see you eating it. Kids imitate everything they see so they may feel resentful if they see you eating snacks while they can’t. You can also involve your child in the process of making or planning the meal. This makes your child feel considered. Additionally, being involved in the process of making the food gives your child a sense of ownership and pride.
If your child is a picky eater, don’t stress! With patience and consistency, you can help your kid open up to new foods and adopt healthier eating habits.