When your child starts showing signs of picky eating, it can be really upsetting and frustrating as a parent. Up until now, they were eating all that you gave them, or at least trying to. Picky eating can be a phase, or it can be a symptom of behavioural issues. In any case, it’s important that you remain calm and encourage healthy eating habits where possible.
As your child grows, getting enough nutrition is very important and that means not neglecting certain food groups. Luckily, there are ways of encouraging healthy eating and with enough persistence, you’ll be on your way to getting your child to eat every food, including the one food they’ve been avoiding.
Try these simple tips at home to help your picky eater.
Schedule Eating Times
There is something to be said for adding structure to your mealtimes. It puts the maximum amount of control over mealtimes into your hands, rather than your child’s: you can control what you serve, where you serve it, and when you serve it. Of course, this only applies to breakfast, homeschool meals and dinner because school lunches will be out of your control. By establishing a routine to have dinner at say, 6:30pm every night, your child will know that their next eating time is not until the following morning and might be more inclined to eat dinner.
Cut Out Snacks
When children are eating snacks all throughout the day, it makes it easier for them to say no to dinner. Not only are they less hungry, but they realize that snack time, which often consists of unhealthy, sugary snacks, is right around the corner. When they are at home, cut out all of your child’s snacks so that they are actually hungry for lunch and dinner. They will be more likely to try what you have prepared when they actually have room for it in their stomachs.
Make the Table a Fun, Stress-Free Eating Zone
It’s really stressful to cook a big meal and then have your little one refuse to eat it, particularly when they pitch a fit to go with their refusal. However, it’s essential that you remain calm. Don’t give into their demands for other foods and keep a positive tone in your voice as you ask them to try a new food. Be sure to try the new food yourself and react with an expression of delight, letting them know that you approve of the food. Never force them to try anything.
Encourage fun table conversations that include your child and every now and then, bring a game or cards to dinner to show that the table is a fun and safe place. You can even reward them with a sticker when they clean their plate.
Studies have shown that it can take up to 20 times of trying a new food for a child to accept it. Don’t give up after a few attempts because a breakthrough might be just a day away. It’s important that you work constantly to expand your child’s palate because doing so will not only equate to more nutritional opportunities, but it also helps encourage open-mindedness and a positive outlook when it comes to food.
Limit Dinner Eating Time
When you are dealing with a picky eater, don’t let dinner time drag on for two hours. Let them know upfront that dinner will only be thirty minutes and that is how long they have to eat. This way, they can choose to eat or not, but the table won’t become a place that they hate because they are forced to sit there.
To learn more tips and tricks, download the Nuturey PinkBook app. As the smartest digital upgrade of the NHS paper red book, the PinkBook sends parents trusted information relevant to their stage of their pregnancy and parenting journey.