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When you have a picky eater it can be incredibly frustrating trying to have your child eat healthy foods and to ensure he/she is getting enough nutrition for a healthy body.
While the first step to coping with a picky eater is to start with a quality multivitamin to fill in gaps in your child’s diet that only goes so far and doesn’t fix the picky eating problem for a lifetime of healthy eating.
These tips can help parents of picky eaters cope with the unique challenges they face and help set their child on the path to a healthy relationship with food, and in the long run, create healthy eaters.
1. Make introducing new foods fun
If your child is reluctant to try new foods try making them fun.
Use foods he/she loves to make a fun scene on the plate adding new foods to the mix.
You can make a dice game placing small chunks of food onto plates numbered to match a dice with one of the foods a new one. Everyone can roll the dice and eat the food on the plate with the number you rolled. Making this into a fun game for the whole family takes the pressure off of trying new foods.
Try a fun kids’ set of chopsticks. These chopsticks are usually connected making them easier to use but making a really cute and fun eating utensil.
Sometimes a great way to get a picky eater to give food a chance is simply to distract them a bit from the meal.
This is why they don’t bother dealing with fights over particular colors or designed dishes. Because anything that helps is worth trying.
2. Keep offering new foods
To begin to like a new food most kids need to eat it several times.
This is particularly important for foods that do not have a kid-friendly sweetness to entice your child.
The more you offer food, the more likely your child will try it a few times.
You do not have to offer a large serving. Start with a simple bite-size bit on the plate with foods he/she already likes.
Use bento-style boxes where there is a large variety of foods placed together for a balanced meal. These boxes are perfect for adding in small amounts of a new food you wish your child to gain exposure to.
For young kids try getting creative with the names like calling a piece of broccoli in the box a tiny tree to make the new food seem less intimidating and more fun.
3. Start a garden
A garden is a great way to encourage your child to eat healthy foods.
Allow your child to have a day in what you grow picking at least one new food to try.
When your child works in the garden he/she will start to find interest in the foods you are growing making him/her more likely to eat them and to be willing to try the new foods from the garden as well.
If you are lucky your picky eater will be more than happy to give foods fresh out of the garden a try.
When it comes to trying new vegetables first try as close to off the plant condition as possible. Freshly washed, perhaps cut but otherwise unaltered. This helps your child connect what they’re eating to the cool things they watched grow.
4. Set a good example on the dinner table
Family mealtime is the perfect time to set a good example for your child by eating healthy foods and trying new foods with them.
When we show our children that trying new things isn’t scary and that we can enjoy healthy foods too, we set the stage for our children’s future choices.
Just like it is important for your child to see your reading it is important for them to see you eating healthy.
Try sitting down with your child and snacking on healthy foods including a new food you want your child to try.
This helps your child see you enjoying the new food without the pressure to try it.
This can help build a healthy sensor of curiosity in your child and maybe just the trick to get them to try a small bite.
5. Don’t pick a fight with your child
When you make a big deal out of trying new foods and fighting with your child he/she is more likely to resist.
Some kids have sensory issues that make them avoid trying new foods and fighting with them to try them can put undue stress on your child making their sensory issues even harder for them to handle.
Instead, keep offering the new food in different ways ranging from a fun game to mixed on the plate with foods they love so your child can start to develop a taste for the food without getting worked up or feeling stressed.
6. Don’t withhold small treats
Studies show that telling children not to have fun treats if they do not eat new food can make them even more reluctant to eat healthy foods and fixate on unhealthy foods.
Instead, try taking a different approach by presenting a fun treat with the main meal rather than as a treat at the end of the meal. Keep it small like a few M & Ms or a cookie with the meal.
While your child is likely to eat that first the sugar will stimulate their appetite and make your child more likely to eat the healthy foods on their plate and even try a portion of new food without a fight.
7. Blend healthy foods into favorites
While you work to help your child learn to eat more variety for a healthier diet there are a few things you can do to get more healthy foods into your child and help them to develop a taste for new foods at the same time.
Sneaking a few vegetables into your child’s favorite foods is a great way to achieve this.
The book Deceptively Delicious is a great place to start in finding ways to add more healthy foods to your child’s meals to help improve nutrition while you keep introducing new healthy foods to your child.
Even the fussiest of eaters can be turned into fans of your food with a bit of creativity and patience.
By following these simple tips, you can make mealtime more enjoyable for everyone involved – even if that means serving up the same dish time and time again.