Picky eating is common among kids and can be difficult for parents to manage, on top of everything else. Here are some strategies you can use to get your child to eat and explore a wider variety of foods.
- Don’t force kids to eat.
Although we want our kids to eat a well-balanced meal and get all of the nutrients their body needs, we cannot force feed food to our kids. Forcing a child to eat can actually have the opposite effect you want and make the situation worse. Forcing a child to eat can create a negative association with the food they are being forced to eat. As long as the child is healthy, according to their pediatrician, avoid causing an argument when your child does not want to eat their vegetables.
- Gradually expand the menu.
As a parent, you should respect what your child enjoys eating, but also encourage new foods. It is a good idea to try new foods yourself. Modeling trying new foods is a good way to get your child to want to try new foods as well. It is also important to retry foods that were well-liked the first time around. This is something you can model as well. Explain to them that you are going to retry a food you did not like at first and show your child that we can adapt to changes in food choices
- Avoid making a second meal.
Many times kids do not like the option that is for dinner. Oftentimes, this can lead to parents making a second meal for the child. Instead of making an entirely different meal, it is said that you should make a second option available. This option could be something like a small snack (yogurt, cereal, salad, etc.). However, this may not work for every kid.
- Teach kids to deal with unwanted food in a calm manner.
There may be times when there are several food choices on a child’s plate and they may not like one of them. It is important to teach them to react calmly in this situation and even push the food to the side if they do not want to eat it. This is also something you can model as a parent. For example, if a restaurant puts pickles on your hamburger and you do not like them, simply take the pickles off and push them to the side.
- Get kids engaged with their food.
A fun way to get kids to eat different foods is to get them engaged with their food. One way to get kids engaged with their foods is enrolling them in cooking classes or cooking with a parent. After taking part in the cooking, kids tend to be more likely to want to try the food that they made. Another way to get your child engaged is to take them grocery shopping. Allow your child to pick out new foods at the store. Your child may find out that they like certain foods over another.