How to Handle Picky EatersApril 14, 2020
In an ideal world, our kids would like everything we make for them. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Whether it’s not wanting to try new things or an avoidance of anything green, finding a way to make sure your kids are getting the nutrients they need can be difficult. Luckily, there’s hope! We have cultivated a list of some easy ways to help combat your child’s selective taste buds.
Keep it colorful
Color is one of the easiest ways to make food more interesting to children. Carrots, grapes, red bell peppers, and cucumbers all provide a variety of shades on the plate and are a great way to keep your offerings fresh and interesting. It doesn’t hurt that most colorful foods are also your vital fruits and veggies! If vegetables aren’t your kid’s cup of tea, substitute fruits instead. That way you can ensure they’re getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow.
Always have a trusty favorite
When dealing with a picky eater, it’s important to make sure they still feel included. When preparing a family meal, keep everything separate and make sure that you have at least one offering that your picky eater likes. Then when it’s time to dish up the meal, each family member can choose the items they would like to take, giving picky eaters the option to try new things but also feel like they have a safe food choice. If you’ve got younger kids, build them a plate with each item on it, so there is equal opportunity for new things and old classics.
Use your words
Language has a lot of power. To be sure you’re setting your kids up for success, make sure that the language you’re using around food is positive. Avoid discussing restrictions or things that are missing from the plate. If you tell them they can have dessert after they finish their dinner, dessert will be all they can think about or focus on. Instead, leave dessert as a surprise for the end.
Additionally, opening up dialogue around food can be a gateway to trying new things! Encourage your children to tell you what they like about foods they love and what gives them pause about other foods. This can help you brainstorm things they might like in the future and what foods you may want to avoid. Even communicating and spending time together over a meal can improve your child’s attitude around food.
Bring out their inner chef
Kids are more likely to want to eat something they’ve had a hand in making. Whether snack time or a larger meal, give your child some recipe options and ask what they’re interested in. Make sure to include them in all the steps, from planning to prep to completion. Once it’s made, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor together, knowing that your little one is in for a healthy treat. If you’re worried about setting boundaries for your kiddos in the kitchen, check out our guide to cooking with kids.
Empowering your eaters
As the parent, you have final say over what is offered to your kids. However, letting your children, especially your picky eaters, know that they have a choice is important. Instead of asking something broad like, “What do you want for lunch?”, give them two or three options to choose from. This allows the child to participate while the parent still remains in control.
Once you’re sitting down to dinner, you can put the ball in their court again. Let your child know they have the power to choose what they want from their plate. Just remind them that what they have is all you will be making for them tonight. More often than not, you’ll find that they will be more adventurous in their choices if it feels like they are in control.
Variety is the spice of life
For picky eaters of all ages, but especially toddlers, it can take seeing an item a few times before they trust it enough to eat it. This can be especially true of vegetables. Find new ways to incorporate items into a meal. If it’s on the side, maybe add some cheese or a sauce for extra flavor. Find a recipe that would combine it with a protein or starch they already know and love. You never know where you might discover their next favorite dish!
What are some of the tricks you’ve used to combat picky eating? Tag SmartSitting in your Facebook and Instagram posts so we can see and share your posts on our channels. Looking for more information on picky eaters? Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for all the latest info coming from our team!