4 Essential Strategies for Dealing with Picky Eaters

IIsabel October 19, 2023 4:02 PM

Are you finding meal times to be a battleground? Are you tired of the daily struggle trying to get your child to eat their veggies? You're not alone. Many parents face the challenge of dealing with picky eaters. But don't panic, there are strategies you can adopt to help your child develop healthy eating habits and make meal times a fun experience. Here are four essential strategies for dealing with picky eaters.

Introduce a Variety of Foods Early On

It's important to start introducing a variety of foods to your child's diet from a young age. The more types of foods they are exposed to, the more likely they are to accept and enjoy a wide range of flavors and textures. This is key in developing healthy eating habits.

Establish a Routine

Children thrive on routine. Establishing regular meal times can provide a sense of security and predictability. Stick to a regular eating schedule with three meals and two snacks each day.

Make Mealtime Fun

Making mealtime a fun experience can take the pressure off eating. Use different colored foods, arrange the food in fun shapes on the plate, or let your child be involved in the cooking process. This can make them more inclined to try new foods.

Be a Positive Role Model

Children learn by watching their parents. If they see you enjoying a wide range of healthy foods, they are more likely to do the same. Make sure you're setting a good example by eating a variety of nutritious foods yourself.

Let's take a closer look at each strategy.

Introduce a Variety of Foods Early On

The earlier a child is exposed to different types of food, the more likely they are to accept those foods later in life. A study found that children who were exposed to a wider variety of foods at a young age were less likely to become picky eaters. Here are some tips to introduce a variety of foods:

  • Start with the basics: introduce fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

  • Introduce new foods gradually and in small amounts. It's not about overwhelming their palette but allowing them to explore different tastes and textures.

  • Don't give up if they reject a food. It can take up to 15 tries for a child to accept a new food. Keep trying!

Establish a Routine

Having a routine not only provides a sense of security but also helps regulate a child's appetite. Here's how you can establish a routine:

  • Set specific meal and snack times. This can help your child understand when it's time to eat.

  • Avoid grazing throughout the day. This can lead to a lack of appetite at meal times.

  • Encourage your child to eat at the table, away from distractions like TV or toys.

Make Mealtime Fun

Making mealtime enjoyable can encourage your child to try new foods. Here's how:

  • Use colorful plates and utensils.

  • Arrange foods in fun shapes or designs.

  • Involve your child in meal preparation. They're more likely to eat something they've helped make.

Be a Positive Role Model

As a parent, you are your child's first role model. If they see you enjoying a variety of foods, they're more likely to want to try them too. Here are some tips:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods in front of your child. Show them that trying new foods can be fun.

  • Avoid negative food talk. Don't label foods as 'good' or 'bad'.

  • Encourage family meals. Eating together as a family can have a positive impact on a child's eating habits.

Remember, every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. But with patience and persistence, you can help your picky eater develop a healthy relationship with food.

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