How do I help my picky eater? This can be a tough one. Let’s face it – some children can be pretty stubborn.
Tip #1 – Make food fun for them. With toddlers especially, you might be able to create some interesting dishes that visually appeal to the child. You can go to Pinterest and type in appealing food dishes for toddlers and get some amazing pictures to copy.
Even just a simple happy face on the top of a sandwich might excite a child and give them motivation to eat it. Anything to make them engage with the food in front of them.
Tip #2 – get them involved in the process, even if it is just shopping and choosing which foods to buy. Can you allow your child to pick some nutritious food to create a dish for an evening meal? They will feel empowered by getting to choose a meal. And if they help in the kitchen too, they are much more likely to eat what they help prepare.
Involve them and that should really help. Even if it is just washing a vegetable in preparation for you chopping it up. The smallest bit of involvement may have a big impact.
Tip #3 – Just relax. Your child will not starve. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Easier said than done, right? I know how hard it can be for a parent to see their child go through periods of not wanting to eat anything nutritious. I have been there myself with my daughter, who was extremely strong willed.
Kids will feed off your energy levels, so if it means a lot to you, they pick up on that. It’s like they think they have this power over us and they believe they have the upper hand. So, try to stay calm and just not make a big deal out of it. They will eat eventually. Just don’t cave in and offer them junk food if they refuse their fruit and vegetables. That is far from ideal.
Tip #4 – Try sneaking fruit or veggies into meals that they already like. With kitchen blenders nowadays it is so easy to puree vegetables and put them into a dish you are preparing. If it looks nice on the plate and appealing to the eye, your kids are likely to try it.
If you pick a current favourite meal, it may be easier to do this. This doesn’t get the end result of having your child readily accept new foods but it does help nutritionally. You might like to try this method. Our end goal is to get them to accept a variety of different foods that are good for them.
These are just a few pearls of wisdom from a mother who has raised a picky eater. I know it is tough. But if you implement these strategies, things will get easier for you.
At the end of meal time, if your child still refuses to eat, I encourage you to take the food away and let them know when the next meal time is. It won’t hurt them to go hungry. And they will appreciate the next meal if they are starving.