Picky eaters come in all varieties. Some young children refuse anything green. Others stick to one or two favorite foods, turning up their nose at anything different. Still other kids pull a switch on their parents every so often, eating nothing but yogurt, fruit, and bagels for weeks, only to suddenly detest what they once gobbled down happily and demand an entirely new menu. Moms and dads may find themselves in power struggles, or wracked with worry over their children’s nutritional intake.
Tips and Tricks
First, stick to a routine. Making sure that all meals and snacks happen at predictable times of day can make for easier mealtimes, as children behave better, and more predictably, when on a schedule. Talk to your daycare provider about their meal and snack schedule, and keep to the same timing at home. Be patient with new foods. Introducing your child to a new food may mean trying it once, failing, introducing it again a few weeks later, and perhaps not winning her over until you’ve tried multiple times. But whatever you do, don’t become a short order cook. You can ask your child to choose from two or three options for dinner, but once you’ve made the meal, make it clear that she must eat the dinner in front of her, and that you won’t be making grilled cheese after she’s asked for chicken.
Speak with Your Childcare Provider
Your daycare and preschool teachers have nudged hundreds of children through hundreds of meal times. If you are concerned about your child’s picky eating, talk to his daycare teachers about what works in the center. There may be certain tactics or approaches that you can use at home to coax your little one to eat just a few more bites.
Try Not to Worry
Don’t try to force a meal or a snack if your child doesn’t want to eat. You’ll only create a power struggle, which may make mealtimes more tense. You can give your child opportunities to eat healthy foods and try new things, but if she picks at her food at dinner, don’t despair. She’ll make up for it at another meal or snack time. And this phase will be in your rear view mirror as she grows older.
Have you been coping with a picky eater? Do you have older children who have grown out of this stage? What tips can you share with your fellow parents in the comments section?