Tips for Dealing With a Picky Eater
Parents often try to accommodate the picky eaters among their children by creating multiple meals; however, in doing this, are they really helping their children learn a healthy and nutritious eating routine? For those who are tired of accommodating their picky eater’s every demand, here are some tips that can help make the uphill battle of broadening their children’s tastes a little easier to win.
Toddlers Need Reoutine
Time to wake up, nap time, play time, bed time – toddlers need to know what to expect when it comes to their day. Meals are no exception, so constructing a family routine that minimizes distractions and creates a regular schedule when meals take place adds another degree of familiarity to family meals. At the same time, this routine empowers children to get adventurous in other arenas – say, in picking the foods they like to eat!
It’s OK To Skip Desert
The custom of eating something sweet after a meal might be one that’s near and dear to many families, but, with increasing awareness of how eating habits impact health, it’s a tradition parents can consider ditching. How does this help with picky eaters? Instead of bribing children with the promise of processed, sugary treats once their meal is eaten, parents who want to maximize the nutritious calories their children ingest can substitute fresh ripe berries and other fruits, cut into shapes that will make your child eager to partake! This positive approach reinforces the idea that food should be healthy and natural, and it lays a foundation that will “feed” your child’s eating habits throughout their life. A subsidiary point to this technique is that, with every choice they make, parents set examples for their children, and eating is no different. If a toddlers see their parents eating healthy foods with relish (enjoyment, not the condiment!), they are more likely to bring this habit into their own lives as they grow.
Food = Entertainment
June Cleaver would cringe, but today’s parents are embracing the idea that food doesn’t just have to be nutritious – it can also be fun! Parents have realized that fun food – bite-sized portions of bagel or pizza, single-serving dipping veggies, and creative solutions like “nibble trays” – is manageable and enjoyable for toddlers to eat, and anything that makes mealtimes more fun means more nutrition getting into a child’s stomach! So don’t be afraid to make meal times fun times, and try to involve all the members of your family in making your little ones more adventurous in their eating habits.
Respect The Stomach
As adults, people try to control when and how much they eat – but, as toddlers, children listen to their appetite, and attempting to convince a stuffed child that he or she really does want to try their broccoli with cheese can be maddening! Instead of subjecting families to stressful meals, parents can alleviate some of this tension by trying to time their children’s snacks so that they take place about two hours before a family meal. This helps kids’ blood sugar levels stay stable and, at the same time, means they’re more likely to be hungry when it comes time for the evening meal.
Don’t Underestimate “The Parent Effect”
Above all, children learn from their parents. If Mom and Dad have a problem with a certain kind of food, their son or daughter is likely to learn this. Parents can look for ways to overcome their own picky eating habits, which ultimately makes it that much easier for their little ones to get all the nutrition their body needs to grow stronger.