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How to Deal with Picky Eating

Is your child a picky eater? We do our best to provide our children with a well-balanced diet, but that can be incredibly difficult if your child refuses to eat certain foods or just to eat at all! Toddlers especially can be choosy when it comes to what they eat (although ironically you may seem to have to discourage them to stop putting things in their mouth that they shouldn’t!) At this stage, children are still exploring solid foods and new flavors, so it is not uncommon to encounter picky eating, but overcoming this can be frustrating for parents. Here are some things you can do help deal with picky eating and encourage healthy eating.

Lower your expectations

Trying to get your child to eat a wide range of foods in one go is unrealistic. Many parents believe their child should be eating more to help in growth and development, but they forget that a toddler’s stomach is about the size of their fist. Trying to force them to eat more will definitely put them off food.

Introduce many foods

It is important to introduce as many different foods as possible in their younger years. If you stick with pasta because it’s soft just to get them eating in the early stages, then it will be no wonder they prefer pasta and turn their nose up at other types of foods later on. The older they get, the harder it will be to convince them to try something new.

Go shopping together

Sometimes the last thing you want to do is take your very active toddler to a busy grocery store where you just want to grab what you need and go, but it can be a very positive thing. Have them look at and pick out some fruits and vegetables they think look interesting and want to try. Go through the shopping list together and make ingredient gathering somewhat of a “treasure hunt.”

Cook together

Get your toddler involved in the cooking process to help them get interested in creating the final product. Having your child stir the ingredients together is a good task to give, or you can have them crack eggs or squeeze some orange juice. Older kids may be able to do a bit more. Of course, stay away from hot surfaces! The act of cooking can help stimulate appetite!

Give praise

When your child tries something new, make sure they know how proud you are of them for doing so. It may not seem like such a big feat for adults, but for children, it really can be. Even if they don’t like it, the praise should be there for trying it. A sticker chart is great! Give out a sticker with every new food they try. Again, they don’t have to like it, but at least try it! When they have tried a few, reward with a special prize.

When the opposite happens and bad behavior rears its head, just ignore it, and don’t give it any thought.

Keep healthy snacks available

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best choices for snacks. Making them available instead of chips and sweet things will encourage kids to make healthier choices. It is also suggested to keep them somewhere within reach, so children can help themselves to a small variety of only healthy snacks.

Make your own sweet treats

We all have a sweet tooth sometimes, and chocolate, cakes, and other types of sweet treats are full of refined sugar. You can easily make your own treats that are “disguised” as something else. For example, making your own fruit juice popsicles or granola treats. They are super easy, and kids don’t need to know that they are homemade, unless you want to get them involved in make the, of course!

Have a make your own dinner night

Kids like to have the opportunity to make their own plate, so arrange a few “make your own” night where they can add their own ingredients to a wrap or pizza. It’s fun, stimulates appetite, and encourages eating! It is really great that there is a wide variety of colorful vegetables to choose from as kids will want to make their plate look “pretty” with all the colors.

Dealing with a picky eater doesn’t need to be stressful. If you’re stressed, then your child may be too! Never force your child to eat something they do not want, but instead, give positive reinforcement, encouragement, and a positive example.

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