10 Tips to Help Picky Eaters Eat Well

by Heligirl on December 12, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

At some point in their development, virtually every child becomes a picky eater, whether it’s refusing to eat anything new, refusing certain items, or demanding only the same menu every day. The good news is like most stages of child development, this too shall pass.

The biggest concern of parents, especially newer ones experiencing this for the first time, is whether their child is getting proper nutrition when this stage hits.

Most often, the answer is yes, as long as there is some variety throughout the week. As adults, especially adults trying to eat healthy for weight loss, increased energy, disease prevention and the like, we think about balanced meals every time we sit down to eat.

Try to take a little different approach with your picky eater. Consider the balance on a daily or even weekly basis instead of per meal.

My kids’ pediatrician reminded me of this method when my son hit a picky stage (something my daughter had never really experienced). As long as a balance of fruits, vegetables, protein and grains were being consumed every day or even a weekly basis for the most picky eaters, kids are receiving the nutrition they need grow and be healthy.

Here are some more tips to help you get through that picky stage:

  1. When serving a meal, include two items you know your child loves and introduce a new item with no pressure to eat it. When asked about it, explain what it is and invite your child to give it a taste.
  2. Limit foods with low nutritional value.
  3. If your child is on a limited repertoire, try to increase the nutritional value. For instance, a mac and cheese kick can be bumped up with whole grain pasta and mixing in a vegetable such as peas.
  4. Get creative with presentation. Try serving a variety of items in a six-hole muffin tin. This way you can limit the portion of the overly demanded item, introduce some new stuff, and make it fun.
  5. Never force your child to eat everything on their plate. This develops issues with food. Instead, introduce the polite concept of taking a taste. The rule is we always take a taste. We can’t say we don’t like it until we taste it. Stand by this rule and don’t force more bites when they say they don’t like it.
  6. Limit sugary drinks that can fill them up but not provide much nutrition, not to mention hurt their teeth.
  7. Avoid milk an hour before a meal because they can tank up on this and not be hungry for food. We serve milk with every meal and make water available between meals.
  8. If at first you fail, try and try again. At least 10 times. Child development specialists regularly agree it can take 10 or more attempts at introducing a food before a child actually starts to eat it.
  9. Keep in mind young children’s sense of taste is much keener than ours. Strong tasting items may be a turn off. When considering new meals, aim for milder tastes and work your way up.
  10. Remember too, we set examples for our children in our own eating habits. If they watch you eat it, in time they’ll be interested in trying it too. And if they see you eating your vegetables you have a better argument about the importance of eating your vegetables.

Do you have any additional tips you’ve found useful in getting picky eaters to dive in (or at least eat a little better)?

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