Is your child one a picky eater? You’re not alone. Research suggests that as many as a quarter of all toddlers are very particular about food preferences. In fact, it’s not uncommon for young children to refuse to eat anything but one or two specific foods for weeks on end. While your little might love this, it probably feels like a battle for you as a parent. When it comes to dealing with a picky eater, the number one thing to remember is that over time your child’s eating preferences and behaviors will change.
At Premier Christian Academy, we provide the children in our care with nutritious, delicious, and age-appropriate snacks throughout the day, so we’re no strangers to dealing with picky eaters. Over the years we have developed some methods to make mealtime a more pleasant experience for everyone involved. In this blog post, we share five of our most successful tips for dealing with picky eaters, so you can ride out your child’s fussiness (which, again, is a 100% normal developmental phase) with ease.
If you’re looking for a Christ-focused child care center in the Northlake area, turn to Premier Christian Academy. We offer engaging and educational day care programs for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, including our infants program, toddlers program, preschool program, pre-Kindergarten program, before- and after-school program, and extracurricular classes. All of our programs feature a variety of different activities, such as reading, outdoor time, science, art, and so much more to ensure that your little one will get the well-rounded early childhood education that they need to succeed in school and in life. Read on to learn how you can best deal with a child that’s a picky eater, then schedule a tour of our Christian child care center today!
Involve Your Child in Food Shopping and Meal Planning
Children are much more likely to enjoy eating certain foods if they were involved in the process of picking them out and/or preparing them. Next time you go grocery shopping bring your kiddo along and teach them about all the colorful and yummy fruits and veggies in the produce aisle. Allow them to pick out whichever ones appeal to them and incorporate these new ingredients into your meal plan for the week. You could even pick up a kid-friendly cookbook from the library and let your child pick out the new recipe themselves.
Apart from the grocery store, children also seem to love going to the farmer’s market, where they can enjoy the abundance of fresh air and exciting new foods. If you like to garden, you might even want to plant vegetables with your little one in your yard or window. Your children will love watching the little seeds grow into mighty plants that they can eat and enjoy.
Remember to Mix It Up
While it may seem counterintuitive to present your picky eater with a variety of new foods, exposing your child to new flavors and texture is actually essentially for expanding and diversifying their palette. Offer your little one a new vegetable, fruit, or protein at least two times per week, making sure to add in herbs, spices, and condiments to make simple meals tastier. If you’re worried about wasting money on food that your child refuses to eat, buy in small quantities at first until you figure out which ones they like. Then, reintroduce the new foods after one or two weeks of your first attempt. Remember that it can take a child up to 15 times of seeing a new food on their plate before they will even touch it!
Never Fight Over Food
Never force feed your child or pressure them into eating something that they keep refusing. It’s important for children to learn to listen to their bodies and use natural hunger cues to guide them as to when to eat. If they ate a big breakfast or lunch, it makes sense they may not want much for the rest of the day. Pressuring children into eating certain foods or punishing them when they refuse to eat certain foods will make them actively dislike those foods even more.
The Family That Eats Together Stays Together
Eat meals as a family as often as you can to dissuade media distractions like TV or cell phones and to allow you to model healthy eating. Serve one meal for the entire family, resisting the urge to make something separate for your child. A method that can help is to prepare a meal that can be assembled differently by different people, like a taco or baked potato bar. That way, your child can skip the lettuce and sour cream and head straight for the beef and avocado, if they choose. This encourages a sense of independence. You will also want to make sure to serve your kiddo small, child-sized portions, since large portions (especially if they feature new ingredients) can feel overwhelming. This will also help you to avoid wasting food.
Turn Food Into Art
Child love visual stimuli. Opt for foods that are colorful or even spruce up plain-hued foods like mashed potatoes with food dye! You can also cut your child’s food into fun shapes using cookie cutters. While this might mean a little more time preparing food for you, it will be worth it in the long run as your child enjoy star- and heart-shaped sandwiches, ants on a logs, or a rainbow of brightly colored fruits and veggies.
Contact Our Northlake Preschool Today!
At Premier Christian Academy, our early childhood educators are experts when it comes to taking care of kids. Keep checking this blog for even more child care tips and reach out to us today to learn how you can enroll your child in our Christian daycare center.