As I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog, I have the personal experience of being the mother of a very picky eater. This would bother most moms, but as a dietitian, it’s made me want to pull my hair out very frequently.
Now that I have another boy who is now 2 years old, I can see that even the kids who are not very “picky” as babies can still get a little funny about their food later on!
Before you pull your hair out, here are 4 ways to deal with a picky eater:
1. Try, try again! And again.
You must realize that sometimes it takes 10 or more times of offering a food before your child will even taste it. Like many things in life, patience and persistence are crucial to success. You will get tired of “wasting” food or going to the trouble of preparing it for your child, only to throw it out. It will be worth it in the end.
2. “Hide” some good nutrition.
Sure, ideally you want your child to reach for a raw carrot with excitement, but until that happens, be sneaky! Hide pureed carrots in spaghetti sauce or spinach in a smoothie.
3. Make it fun!
Making food fun does not always have to be complicated, it can be as simple as the way you talk about it. Only you know what excites your kids! Here’s an example: My son is very into being “the strongest” and “biggest.” He hardly ever eats actual meat, which is why I make sure he gets protein in other ways. When I was browning some ground beef for spaghetti, I said tonight we’re going to have spaghetti with protein bumps in it, and they make you get stronger! He finished his entire bowl of homemade ABC’s with “protein bumps” in it, and the whole time was watching his arm muscles!
4. Avoid war at the table.
Maybe not all kids, but it seems that many will use food to declare war. It seems they can sense when they are “winning” and stressing you out. Other times, kids are just very cautious about trying new things. Either way, getting all worked up into a tizzy about the situation will not help things…and will probably make it worse.
These strategies have worked with my picky eater, and they seem to work with many. I’ve heard many a frustrated mom say that they just don’t know what to do next. Like many other aspects of parenting, you cannot control everything about your child but you can set boundaries.
You cannot force your child to like broccoli, but you can make healthy foods available. You can limit how much fast food, sweets or high calorie beverages they consume! You set the limits, set a good example, and reap the benefits!