It can be so frustrating dealing with a child who refuses to eat most foods—especially when their likes and dislikes seem to change overnight. Apples on Monday are wonderful, then suddenly apples on Wednesday are a definite no. What happened?
Of course, there can be medical reasons that lead to picky behavior. If your child has a sensory or developmental issue, you should absolutely speak to your child’s pediatrician about their eating habits. But, if your child is just picky about what they eat, you can try a few of the tips below.
1. Offer small portions
When introducing a new food—or a food that you think your child may have issues with—offer them small portions. A huge pile of lima beans may be too much for any child to dig into.
2. Hide them
If you know your child is picky about vegetables, try offering them as carrot muffins, zucchini bread, or hidden inside meatloaf or meatballs.
3. Let them help
Have your child help make their food. You may find that they are less fussy about what they eat when they assist in making the meal.
4. Eliminate junk
If you stop bringing junk food into the house, you will have an easier time getting them to eat what you offer. It’s hard to resist candy, chips, and cookies when you know they’re in the cupboard.
5. Serve finger foods
Finger foods are so much more fun to eat than their full-size alternatives. Try offering baby carrots, apple slices, cucumber sticks, and bell pepper rings. It’s even more fun when you offer them a healthy dip along with them.
6. Schedule snacks
Don’t let your child snack endlessly between meals. Have a set time for snacks and stick to it. They will be more likely to accept a healthy snack from you if they haven’t just finished something else.
7. Be a role model
If your child sees you eating a bag of potato chips every night when you watch television, you will have a much more difficult time convincing them they shouldn’t do the same. Model good eating habits and they are more likely to follow your example.
8. Be flexible
I’m all for having rules in place about when and what we eat, but forcing a child to clear their plate isn’t one of them. If your child is truly not hungry, give them the option of leaving the table, but make sure they don’t have unhealthy snacks immediately afterward.
9. Make it fun
There’s no reason you cannot play with your food even as an adult. Why not make a rainbow out of fruit or a person out of that celery stick. Just make sure that they eat it when they are done playing.
10. Allow treats
There is no reason to forbid treats entirely. It’s perfectly alright to have the occasional cookie, candy bar or piece of cake. It just shouldn’t become a part of every single meal.
How do you deal with picky eaters?