If you have a child between the age of 2 and 6, I can guarantee you have experienced some picky eater moments. And I have been there, I know fully that these moments are extremely stressful and frustrating- we prepare this nourishing meal that kids complain about and refuse to eat. After we let go of the frustration, we wonder, are our children getting the nutrients they need?
But rest assured, they are and they will not starve.
There are a few reasons kids are picky eaters: they have sensitive and/or more than the usual amount of taste buds, they are holding out for a better option, there might be peer pressure, or they just don’t like the food.
A Few Tips
1. Never keep foods in the pantry that you prefer your kids not to eat. If they know that food is there, they will ask for instead of what you are offering. Kids are clever and want to get their way, so be one step ahead of them.
2. Monkey see Monkey do. Everyone needs to eat the same meal. There is no need to push a food, but do have them on their plate.
3. Prepare a veggie appetizer for your child to snack on before dinner. Adding a dip – bean, salsa, hummus – with the veggies is a sure fire way to know that they are eating their vegetables.
4. This may sound daunting, however, having your child help prepare meals allows them to be more invested in eating what they make.
5. Be creative.
- Use small muffin tins or ice cube tray as a plate.
- Suggest they eat a number of pieces of food based on age. For example, the child is 4; then have them eat 4 peas.
- Let them make their own salad: Fill a few glass containers with different salad toppings and place them on the dinner table along with a bowl of lettuce. Let your child serve themselves.
- Head over to the library and borrow some colorful recipe books. Have your child go through it and put post- it on the food pages he or she likes.
- Read, Green Eggs and Ham, a lot. And then talk about it; maybe not directly, be subtle.
One Last Tip
When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I dreaded picking her up after school. I know, it sounds horrible, but it was the truth UNTIL I spoke with her brilliant teacher. This is what she said, “Merrin had been on her best behavior all day and is hungry and exhausted at pick-up. I suggest having a light snack in the car and once you get home, serve her dinner.” It sounded crazy, but it worked.
However, if your child is constantly not eating, not gaining weight, seems to be stressed with eating or completely rejects every single food in the same food group, it is time to visit your doctor. It is probably a phase, but is is always best to have someone on your team who can support you and come up with a more detailed plan perfect for your family.