Ah, the terror of all mommies everywhere: picky eaters. Every time you put an effort into making something delish for your family, these little monsters have the nerve to reject your food! Cringe-worthy, but what can you do?
Well, a steady diet of burgers and fries is no way to raise a healthy child, but every time you try to serve anything else, dinner time turns into a battlefield. What’s a mom to do? Don’t panic, just follow this few tips and you’ll be well on your way to taming even the most selective picky eater at your table. And just in time for the holidays too!
Now, first things first, you should respect your kids’ appetite. Yes, I know, it’s really frustrating sometimes, but forcing your child to eat will lead to no good. When it comes to picky eaters, you should never use food as a punishment (or reward, for that matter). Your goal should be to help your kid develop a healthy relationship with food, rather to get them to eat those carrots at all costs. Setting limits and a strict schedule is a good thing, though. Have three fixed meals a day and a couple of snack breaks. If your kid doesn’t like what’s on the table, they don’t have to eat it, but they have to wait until the next meal to eat.
A good strategy is to introduce your kids to new foods gradually. Don’t just jump on your kid with a plate of raw broccoli and expect them to eat it all. Serve them new foods along with some things you know they like. If you are worried about your kids flat out ignoring the new foods in favor of the ones they already like, there’s a couple of things you can try. For instance, enforce a “polite one bite” rule: everybody has to try at least one bite of everything in their plate before deciding they don’t like it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it can take up to 15 tries before a child accepts a new food, so if it didn’t work the first time, keep trying! Children have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so bitter foods are stronger to them. If they don’t like a certain vegetable, for example, try serving it roasted, to bring out the natural sweetness in veggies. In fact, this is a great strategy for every food. If they don’t like it at first, serve it again, but prepared differently. This, together with the “polite one bite” rule, will sure help broaden your kids’ horizons when it comes to food.
Finally, a good tip is to get your kids involved with the food. Make them help you cook, let them choose some groceries when out shopping, ask for their input when deciding what to cook… Children love to get involved, and they will get a sense of pride in their work, so they will be more likely to eat new things after they helped cooking.
As you can see, picky eater can be handled just by changing a few things around dinner time. Be persistent, be consistent and be patient, you’ll have your kid eating new things in no time!