There are some things that we get to control as mommies. For instance, the choice between cloth diapers versus disposable ones is in our hands; the choice of laundry detergent; the selection of the kids’ shampoo. Although we have the control of what to feed our children, picky eaters choose whether or not they’ll eat what we give. What a big problem for us moms, huh? This post will hopefully help you with your picky eaters.
Have you ever had your child throw a tantrum because he didn’t want to eat what was on the table? Big trouble huh? And it’s not that they’re not hungry; they either don’t like it or don’t want to try it. Most of the time, children grow out of the pickiness. For some, it just doesn’t get better to the point of gagging when trying new things.
The main reason we don’t eat something is, of course, the taste. If we don’t like it, we don’t want to eat it. Texture and smell could also be a factor that affects our child’s preference. As a mom, of course, we want our kids to get the best nutritional value in their diet. But we also don’t want to force our children as this will only need to negative behaviors. So what do we do with picky eaters? Maybe we should starve them until they eat what we give? I’m just kidding of course! After loads of reading, here’s what I’ve learned and try to practice with my picky eater:
- Your child’s appetite is not something you should not control. If he’s not hungry, don’t force him to eat. As parents we usually want them to finish what’s on the plate but don’t bribe or force them to do this. Your child might associate meal time as something frustrating. Instead, you can give smaller portions and give him or her the opportunity to ask for more. This way, you are also encouraging independence.
- Invite your kid to help you prepare snacks or meals. Aside from exposing him to different food, you should welcome him to use his/her senses with them. Let him smell, feel, and if possible hear what sound the food makes. You can let your child taste, but don’t just focus on the taste. Talk about the color, the size – use the other senses too! Encourage your child to compare different food. You can say “the apple is harder than the orange,” or “the lemon smells so good.”
- When you introduce something new, it might be helpful to let the child help you prepare it. Children often take pride in things they contribute to making. Don’t expect too much, though! He might end up eating what you’ve cooked together, or he might not. Either way, affirm him when he tries something new even if it was just a small bite.
- You can serve new food in small portions. Don’t overwhelm the child by giving so much in the first try. Let them taste at first.
- It’s good to let your child choose, but remember to avoid yes or no questions. “Do you want to eat this?” Yes or no questions with picky eaters will often lead to a “no'”. Instead, let your child choose from two choices to avoid the power struggle. “Would you like an apple or an orange?” You can even use this guide with other items and not just food. Just make sure the rules are clear. You can’t let your child pick his or her cup in a restaurant. You can say, “At home, you can choose, but if it’s another place, you have to use what they have.”
- Playdates might help moms with their picky eater. Children often learn from each other. Seeing kids their age eat the food they don’t might prompt them to try. I guess this is where peer pressure might be okay, huh? Of course, one taste won’t make your child a fan of the food, but at least he got over with trying it.
- Model to your child. Eat the same food you’re offering. Children learn from watching you. If they’re feeling fears about the food, this might help alleviate them. When doing this, you can describe to you kid the taste, the texture, and the smell.
- Make food fun by cutting it into shapes and giving it a different name. Do things to try to catch your younger ones’ attention. Encourage your child to invent and prepare new snacks with you.
- Offer the same food for the whole family. Avoid comparison between your kids. Don’t say, “Look! Your brother can eat it, why can’t you?” Negative comments like that can lead to resentment and unhealthy attitude towards meals and family members.
- Create a healthy atmosphere during meal times. Having fun conversations with each other will encourage a healthy attitude for food, family and meal time.
Even with these strategies, sometimes it will take more time. It may take one try, two tries, or twenty until your child begin to enjoy new food. Continue to follow these strategies and be patient. If they are eating a wide variety of food, that’s good. Some children just have their preferences. Even we have our preferences. You just can’t force a kid to like everything you feed them. If you can, please call me and tell me how you did it!
If nutrition is the concern, our job is to search for alternatives. For example, some kids may dislike meat which is high in protein. What we can do is offer food that’s more of your child’s preference that contains protein. You can also try a recipe that has their favorite food with their not so favorite. Luckily for us, we can find so many different recipes online. Finally, don’t be discouraged! It’s not always your cooking’s fault. Sometimes it’s just the kid.
Sarah Morgan. A sister, a daughter, a wife, but most especially a mother. Being a mother makes me realize that life is a great adventure. No day is always the same, which makes every day so much more exciting.