Struggling to get your toddler to eat a variety of foods? Tired of watching them eat the same foods from the same food group over and over again? Have no fear! NSPT’s very own dietitian is here! 🙂
First and foremost, is your child a picky eater? Do they refuse to eat any of the healthy foods that you offer? Have you tried unsuccessfully to get them to eat different healthy foods? Is the number of foods they are willing to eat so limited it concerns you? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, your child may be a selective eater. However, in many cases, picky eating has nothing to do with food and has more to do with control.
5 Tips for a Picky Eater
1. Set a schedule. Children tend to respond well to routine, so try to schedule a set time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least two small snacks. The more consistent the timing, the more your child will get accustomed to eating every two to three hours.
2. Take advantage of food jags. Does your toddler only eat plain macaroni orr pieces of cheese? Have no fear – the good news is that they’re eating! It’s safe to assume that eventually they will get over these “food jags”, and now is the time to experiment with healthier alternatives without taking away their favorite food. For example, try pasta with added fiber or cheese made with two percent milk for healthier alternatives.
3. Don’t give up. When it comes to getting your picky eater to try new foods, be patient. Studies show that it can take up to 15 to 20 consistent tries in a period of one to two months for a child to even consider trying a new food. If your child doesn’t want to eat chicken on Monday, try again on Friday or the following week.
4. Participation is key. Try to get your child involved with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Let them pick out fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market and get them involved in the kitchen. The more you get them involved with what they can eat, the more likely they’ll be to try it.
5. Remember the rule of thumb: your child will decide what he or she will eat, but you as a parent decide what foods and how often. Especially during the ages of two to five, children try to gain their independence with their eating behavior. The less you try to force them to eat, the more likely your child will be able to control their own food intake.
What is your secret to get your picky eater to eat? What has worked for you? Do share!