Published: 2019-06-23 14:46
Last Updated: 2021-05-16 12:19
Parents know getting their kids to try new foods is important. If a child is going to get proper nutrition, a steady diet of chicken nuggets and sugary juice won’t cut it.
Of course, many parents also know this task can seem just shy of impossible when a kid is picky. Even if your child is usually willing to try different foods, there may be one food they simply refuse to eat.
Don’t worry if you find yourself in this situation. Experts point out it’s very common. Odds are good your child will develop a more adventurous palate in the long run. In fact, research indicates children may simply be picky because their taste buds are more sensitive to certain flavors than an adult’s. As they grow older, this tends to change.
That’s not to say you should simply throw your hands up and hope for the best if your child is picky now. You can still help them enjoy healthy meals and eat outside of their comfort zone with the following useful tips.
Don’t Bribe Them
This is an important point to keep in mind primarily because so many parents make this mistake.
(In other words, there’s no need to judge yourself if you’ve used this tactic before.)
When parents try to get their children to eat certain foods by promising they can have treats as a reward, the implication for a child is that the food being suggested is naturally unpleasant. They wouldn’t need a reward for eating it if it tasted good, right?
You don’t want your little one to develop this attitude. As tempting as it may be, don’t try to deal with a picky eater by bribing them.
Get Them Involved
Children tend to be more willing to try meals if they feel they helped make them. Luckily, there are many basic kitchen tasks kids can perform, such as stirring ingredients together, or picking out garden herbs.
Getting your child involved in meal prep is a smart way to get them interested in new foods. On top of that, you’ll spend quality time together, and they’ll get to learn skills they can use in the future.
Try Different Foods
Your main goal when working with a picky eater is to ensure they’re getting key nutrients. Yes, it’s important for a kid to be willing to try different foods in general, but for the most part, your priority is their health.
Remembering this makes handling a picky eater much simpler. Most nutrients kids need are available in several foods. For instance, maybe you want your child to get more omega-3 fatty acids from their diet. Although fish is commonly thought of as the best way to get omega-3s from food, if your kid isn’t a fan, you can try serving avocado instead. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to learn what nutrients they need, and research the various foods that contain them.
Younger children often respond positively when mealtime is fun. Your child might usually refuse to eat a certain food, but if you arranged the ingredients on their plate in the shape of a face or similar image, they might “forget” they don’t like it. It’s a simple tip, but one that can be very effective with babies and toddlers.
Again, addressing picky eating habits takes time. You shouldn’t expect overnight results. You also shouldn’t give up simply because your child is persistent. If you continue to work with them in a positive, supportive way, eventually they will be more likely to try new things. You just might need some patience. But what parent doesn’t?