Every household has one. Whether they’re in a phase where they’ll only eat a certain food or where it seems they won’t eat any food, dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating. Here are a few tips to help!
1. Stick to a routine
Kids are creatures of routine, and it’s helpful for them to know when to expect their next snack or meal. This helps them prepare mentally for food while at the same time helping their bodies’ to establish a regular, healthy metabolism. A hungry child is more likely to eat what she is served rather than protest items on the plate.
At the same time, when a routine is broken, you’ll need to respect the effect this may have on your child. For example, if you’re running late and the babysitter gives your child a snack, they may not want to eat all the food on their plate at dinner time. Communicate with your child to figure out whether he or she is just full, or if there’s something else in play.
2. Be fun and creative
Kids love to play and interact with their food. Serving them hands-on dishes such as veggies with ranch dressing or apple slices with honey or peanut butter can help them feel like they’re playing a game as well as eating a meal or snack. Using cookie cutters to cut shapes into foods can also have this effect.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Serving breakfast foods for dinner can also make mealtime more fun, as can dishes displaying an array of brightly colored foods.
3. Get your kids involved
Kids also like to be included in the preparation process. This not only educates them about healthy foods and how to cook them, but it also gives them a feeling of pride knowing that they’re “helping mom” or acting “like a grown-up.”
Ask your children to wash and peel fruits and vegetables, or to stir batter or casserole mixes. While you work together, you can take the opportunity to talk to your children about the nutritional value of each food you’re preparing.
4. Be patient
When dealing with a picky eater, it’s important to be patient. There’s a good chance that, even if their refusal to eat a certain food is a decision and not an actual dislike, you won’t change their mind overnight. Lots of things can turn kids off of certain foods, from their color to their scent or texture. Sometimes, kids need time to get used to a new item before they’ll eat it without reservation.
Try preparing foods in different ways to give your child a new experience with it. Soups and casseroles can be good mediums for mixing in some new foods.
5. Be firm
Avoid the trap of becoming a short-order cook in your very own home by being firm with your child about what’s for dinner. If you teach your child that he can get whatever he wants merely by refusing to eat what you’ve served, you’ll set yourself up for countless nights of this behavior. Gently insist that your child stay at the dinner table, even if he or she refuses to eat what you’ve prepared, until the entire family is done eating.
If your child’s picky eating becomes a problem to the point that you’re worried about their nutrition and development, consult their pediatrician or seek the help of a specialist. In some cases, a mental or behavioral issue may be responsible, however, there’s also a chance it’s a medical problem that may be treatable by medication.
FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help kids take oral medications more easily. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child’s prescription.