Raising kids is tough. It’s even hard when you have a child who is a picky eater. And, chances are, you are probably a parent to a child who is a picky eater. Not to worry, though, toddlers between the age of 2 and 5 tend to pick up this behaviour. But while this behaviour is quite normal, you shouldn’t have to live with it. Nutritionists say that children who are picky eaters pick up this behaviour from their surroundings and this can actually be learned over time. Here are some techniques parents can use when dealing with picky eaters in their homes:
Eat food together as a family
Sharing a meal, even if once a day, especially dinner, will help the child who’s a picky eater be more interested in the food they are offered. This means no media distractions like TV or cell phones at mealtime. Serve one meal for the whole family and resist the urge to make another meal if your child refuses what you’ve served. This only encourages picky eating. Try to include at least one food your child likes with each meal and continue to provide a balanced meal, whether she eats it or not.
Make food fun
Children will only be picky eaters if they feel like eating food is a chore. Believe it or not, a child is more likely to eat food that’s colourful or one that been cut into fun shapes.
Of course, this will mean more work on you but if you’re desperate for your child to eat the food you place on his/her plate, then this should be a small price to pay. You can invest cookie cutters that can create fun shapes out of bread and other foods, or create a rainbow out of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
Involve you child in meal preparations
A child who’s a picky eater is often much more willing to try food that he/she has been involved in choosing and preparing. Small tasks such as stirring or adding ingredients into the cooking pot are safe enough to involve your toddler in. Your child will be curious to know how the food they took part in preparing tastes.
Don’t give bribes
Tempting as it may be, try not to bribe your children with treats for eating other foods. This can make the “prize” food even more exciting, and the food you want them to try an unpleasant chore. It also can lead to nightly battles at the dinner table.
Sometimes, a child will refuse to eat the food served during mealtime because they may feel full from all the snacks you serve them throughout the day. Offer one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon snack but skip any pre-dinner snacks. This is because, the hungrier children are, the more likely they are to eat whatever meal is put in front of them.
Serve small portions
Truth is, toddlers might be overwhelmed by large portions of foods served to them that’s unfamiliar or not their favourite. Therefore, place small portions of food on their plates and let them finish it. Once done, you can offer to top up their plate. This will also help you waste less food. You never know what your children will or won’t eat, and there’s no point in giving them a pile of food just for the kids to reject it.