If you’re raising a preschooler, then you might also have a picky eater on your hands. While some kids will eat almost anything you put in front of them, others refuse to eat anything but a handful of very specific foods. You want to make sure that your child gets their nutrients, so what’s the best way to deal with picky eating in kids? It can get frustrating, but here are some tips to help in appeasing your picky eater.
Give It Time
Remember that for small children, just about everything is a new experience. For some kids, this is exciting. For other kids, it’s scary. Your child deals with new experiences almost constantly. Furthermore, they’re developing their own preferences for food and drinks. A toddler’s palate just won’t be the same as an adult’s palate, and that’s okay. If your child has an overall healthy diet, then you may just have to wait out this stage. Have patience. Forcing your child to eat certain foods will only make them develop negative associations with those foods.
Eat Without Distraction
Your children watch you for behavioral cues, so now is a great time to model healthy eating. Let your child see you enjoy your food. This means eating without distractions like television and tablets. Let your focus be on your food and each other. Sometimes, children avoid necessities like food and sleep because other activities are just too exciting. When you remove those activities from the equation, you shift their focus back to what’s at hand.
Make it a Routine
Like we mentioned above, for young children, most experiences are new experiences. Some kids love new things. Others don’t. Sometimes, picky eating in children happens because new foods are deviations from the routine. That broccoli isn’t what your child usually eats at dinner, which is why they’ll have none of it. If your child thrives with routine, then make new foods a part of that routine. For example, once a week you can have “Try a New Food Day.” If you find ways to make it fun, then your child may even look forward to tasting new foods.
Small children need small steps. You may want your preschooler to finish that plate of peas, but your child’s taste buds are dealing with something unfamiliar. Most adults don’t rush headlong into unfamiliar things, so why should we expect kids to do that? Instead, introduce new foods in baby steps. When it comes to new foods, keep the portions small for appeasing your picky eater. Encourage your child to eat just a few bites. Introduce only one new food at a time and keep bringing that food back to the dinner table. This way, you get your child’s taste buds used to that new food. Soon, your child will happily finish their cauliflower.
Change the Texture
Sometimes, picky eating in kids isn’t necessarily about the taste. It’s about the texture. Again, it’s because of the new and the unfamiliar. If your child can’t stand soft vegetables, go for things that crunch. If your child prefers soft foods, then you can turn regular cauliflower into mashed cauliflower.
By the way, if your child doesn’t outgrow the picky eater stage in a few years, keep an eye out for potential sensory issues. A child who doesn’t like certain food textures may struggle with clothing textures, loud noises, and other sensory input, too. For some kids with sensory struggles, occupational therapy can make a huge difference.
Want More Tips for Picky Eating in Kids?
Need more advice about picky eating in kids, nutrition, and other child care topics? Legacy Academy in Snellville has what you need. We offer regular child care advice and tips. We also offer the best child care in Snellville. Contact Legacy Academy today to learn more.