Having a picky eater can be inevitable. Some kids are just wired that way. However, getting off on the right foot with healthy eating habits can often curb those issues. Here are some ideas to try at home:
- During meal time, be sure to turn off the TV and limit distractions. Check for correct seating and posture, making sure your child’s feet touch the ground.
- Every meal should be well-rounded. include one protein source, one starch, one fruit/vegetable (even if the child is not going to eat it).
- Minimize talking about the child and their behavior during feeding and focus on the food during conversation, using positive language (no bribing, no yelling, and no questions). Remember it takes at least 15 exposures for a child to try a new food before they decide if they like it.
- Family meal time routines are important for modeling good eating and family meals should occur at least 5 days a week. An adult should sit down with the child for all meals. All foods are presented and served on the table “family style” to allow the child to see and smell foods in front of them.
- A trip to the grocery store is a great way for a child to touch, look, and smell new food items. Your child can help you fill the cart while you talk about the properties of the food including similarities.
- Playing with food and meal preparation are great ways for your child to interact with food. Allow them to stir, squash, smell, and pour the food into different containers to become comfortable with the food. In addition, making food craft snacks with your child will expose them to new foods too. These two websites have great ideas: www.familyfun.com and www.anotherlunch.com for making food crafts.
- When children prefer to only eat the same food prepared the same way every time, this can lead to what we call a food jag. It is best to remove all foods from original packaging before presenting the food to the child. Some children become fixated on package specific foods and if a marketing change occurs in the packaging this can impact their acceptance of the food item. Remember to be flexible with meals and allow supper for breakfast and vice versa to avoid eating the same foods at the same time every day.