It is really common for toddlers – and even older children – to be picky eaters. However, knowing that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when there’s ONE thing that they just won’t eat! So, whether it’s getting them to come from school with empty lunch boxes, having them eat their whole homeschool meals, or getting rid of that dinnertime battle, these tips could well be what you’re looking for.
Try giving them the item they refuse to eat with something else that you know they like. You can keep trying this with different types of their favorite foods. For example, if it’s tomatoes they don’t eat, pair them raw with cheese on a sandwich one day; then, if that doesn’t work, cook them with pasta the next day.
2. Cook Together
Have your little one prepare the meal with you so that they feel proud of what they have achieved. That way, they’re much more likely to eat it. Whether it’s adding the ingredients, stirring the mixture, or just setting the table, any involvement will help. Having your child be included in the food preparation process has many other benefits, so this is definitely worth a try.
It can take as many as ten tastes of something before a child’s taste buds will accept a new flavor. So, don’t give up just because they refuse something once.
4. Keep them Hungry
Limit snacks and stick to a regular schedule of meals. This will mean that your child is actually hungry when it gets to mealtime, so they’re more likely to eat what’s put in front of them. Having said that, make sure to avoid fighting with them about their food. It’s positive for children to learn to listen to their bodies and know when they’re hungry and not. For example, they may not want to eat much at lunchtime if they had a big breakfast. If you shout at them for this or punish them for not eating their lunch, you may inadvertently put them off more food.
5. Family Time
As often as possible, have your meals all together as a family. Serve the same meal to everyone and resist the urge to cook something separate for your picky eater. Model healthy eating and proper table manners, and make sure there are no distractions like the TV or your cell phone.
If you have concerns regarding your child’s diet, you should consult a pediatrician. The doctor will be able to tell you if your little one is getting all the nutrients they need or not, which will allow you to focus on patiently developing your child’s healthy eating.
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