Many kids are picky eaters and there are countless reasons why they decide some foods simply won’t make the cut. It can be the texture they don’t like or something as simple as the color of the said food that can put them off. This is especially common among toddlers but thankfully they tend to grow out of it as they get older. In the meanwhile, we have collected some tips on how to manage picky toddlers.
First of all, we want to rule out any allergies. Make sure your child not wanting to eat certain foods is not connected to the discomfort they might be causing them. Keep an eye out for rashes or swellings and if you notice any reaction to a food item talk to your doctor.
One of the easiest ways to make kids enjoy their mealtime is by arranging food in fun shapes. This will definitely get them interested in the meal in front of them. Cut up everything into tiny pieces to avoid choking and to make it easier for them to eat on their own and arrange them into different shapes.
Get them involved
Do the meal planning together. Sit down together and brainstorm some meal ideas. You can even buy a kid’s cookbook and look for new recipes together. After you have your list go and do the shopping together. Use them as your little helpers. Get them excited about food!
This brings us to our next point. Cook the meal together. There are some small toddler-friendly jobs you can delegate to them. It’s more likely they will be interested in eating the food if they were involved in the creation process. Yes, it might get a bit messier than usual but it will definitely be worth it.
One of the most important steps in breaking the cycle is to eat together as a family without distractions. Turn off the TV, put some quiet music on and enjoy your time together as a family. Try to turn off your phones as well if possible.
Make the same meal for everyone and if your child refuses to eat certain foods try not to offer them an alternative as this will just encourage their picky ways.
It’s also important to make your meals fun. Talk about happy things, and try to avoid any arguments. If they don’t want to eat something try not to get frustrated and angry at them.
What do they like
We all have our favorite meals, and just like us our kids will have their preferred ones as well. Try to figure out what makes them like certain food items. Do they prefer crunchy textures or soft ones, savory or sweet dishes? There are healthy alternatives for anything and you can use this knowledge to make a meal more appetizing especially toddlers that are picky eaters.
Kids, especially toddlers, love to be in charge and testing their boundaries. If you want them to cooperate rather than telling them what to do it’s always better to give them options. Do you want to take a bath or brush your teeth first? This can be implemented in your meal planning as well. Give them two different meal options and they get to decide what they want. This way they feel a bit more in charge and more likely to enjoy the meal they picked.
In the middle of a food-related meltdown bribing the kids might seem like a good idea, however, we strongly advise against this. Offering a meal they prefer as a reward can make the current dish you want them to eat even more undesirable. If you must offer them a reward make sure it’s not food-related. You can give them a sticker or play their favorite game together after the meal instead.
Let them decide
As a parent, you are responsible to provide them with healthy meals but make sure you don’t force-feed them. Kids need to learn to listen to their bodies and eat when they are hungry. You should make sure they always have food available during meal times however if they are not hungry they shouldn’t have to finish all their food. If your child completely refuses to eat or is not eating enough for their age and weight contact your doctor as there might be some underlying reason for this behavior.
Try something new
It’s really important to introduce new meals and dishes in their diet regularly. Make sure you do it in very small increments. When offering picky toddlers a new meal only adds a few bites onto their plates so they can taste it. It might take a few tries to get them to learn to like a new dish. You can also try different seasoning for foods that they have already accepted. Make sure you only offer one new dish at the time. It can be overwhelming for their little taste buds. When expanding their palate, make sure you offer them the new food item at the beginning of the meal when they are the hungriest as it’s more likely they will take to it this way.
One of the most important things is to keep your cool. Picky toddlers can be extremely frustrating especially if you spent hours cooking a healthy meal for them but don’t take it personally. Sometimes it’s difficult but try not to yell or get angry at them for not eating because this will only make their dislike for these meals even more prominent.
Having a picky eater on your hands can be challenging at times, however, remember that this is likely only a phase and they will grow out of it eventually. Keep in mind that even as adults we have food preferences and your kids will have their favorites as well. Try to make mealtimes a fun event that your children are looking forward to and it will definitely help you in the long run.
Do you have a picky eater? What worked for you? If you have any tips you want to share let us know down in the comments!