Picky eating is when a child (or adult) refuses foods often or eats the same foods over and over. Picky eating is usually high in the toddler and preschool years. Sometimes it’s a wonder how they thrive on the few bites they take here and there throughout the day. Most parents worry that their picky eaters is not getting enough nutrition to grow. But in most cases, they are.
Picky eating often shows up around one year, a time when many children are beginning to feed themselves. They can now choose what and how much to eat, giving them some degree of control over their lives. Some days they may eat a lot of everything. Other days they may not seem to eat much at all.
While children usually grow a lot and quickly in their first year, growth seems to slow down in the second year. Toddlers are already learning lots of new skills, like talking, walking, running, climbing, and more. During a time of great change, children often seek familiar things as much as possible, including sticking to the same small group of foods. This consistency can help them feel safe and secure during a period of rapid change.
However, Parents need to be in touch with their own expectations about how much their toddler is expected to eat. It is unrealistic to expect a toddler to eat a large amount of food at each meal everyday; after all, a toddler’s stomach is approximately the same size as her clenched fist.
It is the responsibility of the parents to provide healthy foods at meal and snack times. Children are responsible for what and how much they eat. This helps children learn what it feels like to be hungry and then full and how to make healthy choices based on this awareness, i.e., eating when hungry and stopping when full.
It’s entirely possible to convince a child to give a food they dislike a try, another try, and a lot of tries until they accept it as part of their meal. These 10 effective tips will help you guard your picky eater to feed well as parents/guardian.
What Can Parents Do TO HELP?
1. Model Good Eating. Dealing with a picky eater may discourage you from wanting to try new foods and recipes at home, but being a good role model for your picky eater can actually motivate them to try new things. Try to set a positive example for eating healthy as well. Children are more likely to accept a new food if they see their parents, siblings and extended family eating healthy foods and enjoying them. Eat a range of healthy foods yourself. Make sure that your own choices are in line with the foods you want your child to eat and enjoy.
2. Prepare Meals Together. Having a hand in making the meal increases the chances that your child will taste her “creation.” Have your little one assist with measuring, pouring, or stirring. When you involve your child in preparing the meal, handling, smelling, and touching the food will help him get comfortable with the idea of eating it.
3. Don’t Force Anything. Insisting that your child eat a particular food might cause them to resist the food even more. The fact is that forcing children to eat usually leads to the child eating less. Forcing also teaches children to rely on others to tell them how much to eat and what they are feeling. This does not lead to healthy eating habits or good self-esteem. Forcing children to eat actually can make picky eating behavior worse. The key is continually and gently encourage your child to give healthy foods a chance.
4. Serve Less Than You Expect Your Child Will Eat. When faced with much portions, some children out rightly refuse to eat anything. Try serving small amounts of a variety of healthy foods, and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.
5. Try To Fit All Five Food Groups In Every Meal. Keep a food diary to track whether your child is getting all five food groups at each meal over the course of a week. Put new foods next to foods your child already likes. Encourage him to touch, smell, lick, or taste the new food. Make sure that at each meal, there is something the child knows and likes on the plate. Also give him what the rest of the family is eating in toddler-sized portions. Over time, these choices will become as liked and familiar as the foods he is already acquainted with.
6. Expose Your Child To A New Food At Least Ten Times. Don’t give up if your child rejects the food when they first try it; reintroduce the option later on at another meal at least ,more than ten times. Familiarity with foods is key.
7. Make Eating Fun. One of the easiest ways to get picky eaters to try new foods is to make food fun. Let them get their hands dirty, and worry about the cleanup later. If your little one is still exploring the world of various textures, tastes, and colors, letting them eat with their hands allows them to experience sensory stimulation while learning about different kinds of foods. Also Try giving foods new, fun names.
8. Reduce Distraction. Minimizing distractions during meal time can make dealing with picky eaters easier. Turn off televisions, radios, and remove other distractions like cell phones, iPads, toys, and video games also help picky eaters focus on their meals rather than technology while at the table.
9. Drink Water Instead Of Sugar-Loaded Juices.
Kids don’t need all the extra calories in juice. Stick with water, calorie-free sparkling water with no added sugar.
10. Be Patient. Encouraging your children to eat a healthy diet can be frustrating, but take heart and be patient. Offer new foods often, and stay positive. You can also offer safe finger foods that your child can feed himself. Offer your child a spoon to hold while you’re feeding him. This will let him feel in control. Be patient, don’t start a fight. Your goal is to get your children to naturally enjoy the experience of trying new meals. This won’t happen if they associate the experience with negative feelings.
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