Conquering the Picky Eater
We've all heard of that mythical three-year-old who happily snacks on edamame, hungrily eats every type of vegetable known to humankind and eagerly tries everything his parents put on his plate, from salmon to samosas. If your kid is one of those children, go ahead and skip this article. If, on the other hand, you have a picky eater on your hands who will only willingly eat yogurt and frozen waffles on any given day, then you're like the rest of us:
Struggling to make sure your little one is getting all of the nutrients he needs to grow up strong and healthy. What can you do to eliminate mealtime battles and help build healthy eating habits? Try these simple strategies and one day, your child might be the one asking for kale chips!
- Eat together whenever you can. The family dinner table is the place where kids learn good eating habits, see you eating all different types of foods and learn that meal times can actually be enjoyable family get-togethers rather than battles over how many bites he has to consume.
- Let him choose - every once in a while. Have a special basket or shelf stocked with nutritious foods he DOES like, and let him select what he wants as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. He'll get a kick out of being so independent, which will help bolster his good feelings about good food.
- Use creative add-ins. Children are more likely to accept a new flavor if it comes alongside an old favorite. For example, toss peas in with the mac and cheese or serve a side of broccoli with the chicken nuggets. Plus, you'll boost the nutrition level of his go-to meal.
- "Just try it." Sometimes, picky eaters are simply overwhelmed by the thought of finishing an entire serving of a new food (or any food). Instead of heaping a portion on his plate, encourage him to try a bite or two and promise that if he doesn't like it, you won't make him finish it. He's FAR more likely to try something new if he doesn't feel threatened by it.
- Go shopping together. Have your picky eater help you craft a grocery list (let him draw pictures of the foods he'd like to get if he's too little to write). More often than not, he'll be so excited to try the foods he “helped” pick out!