Do you have a picky eater?
by Dr. Maureen O’Brien
Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2019
As the mom of a child whose palate was limited to mac & cheese, yogurt and peanut butter during his formative years, I feel VERY qualified to write about picky eaters. The fact that his twin(!) would eat anything I put in front of him led me to one important insight: don’t blame yourself. After all, I offered the same foods at the same time but only one of my kids would accept what was on his plate. However, in retrospect, there were some things that I would do differently, so here are four tips that you might find helpful.
- Your child’s mood, curiosity and stage mean that sometimes they will be willing to experiment and other times it will be a flat “No!” But giving up on introducing new foods is not an option. So, buckle up. It’s a long ride.
- Set your child up for success. Don’t sabotage meals by having lots of snacks available in between. A hungry child is more likely to try foods, period. However, be careful of bribing your child or forcing them to try something new. Especially with toddlers, that strategy will surely backfire!
- Serve new foods alongside familiar ones. If you make eating an either/or situation, you are creating an area of conflict between you and your child. It’s fine if your child merely sniffs broccoli but eats all of the chicken. Let them know you’re happy if they were willing to try just one bite.
- Let your child have fun with food. Worry less about the mess and lean into the fact that your child is willing to dip, smear or dump the new foods onto their tray. Negative energy is more likely to infect the entire eating experience; your child will shut down in their attempts to try new things if you seem unhappy about it.
In summary, trying new foods is a long-term process. There are no shortcuts, but it is true that repeated exposures to foods makes a difference. Trust me: your child will eventually eat all the food groups, and you will eventually have less mealtime stress!