Toddlers and young children are known for being picky eaters. They go through odd stages where yesterday's favorite food is the worst thing you could ever give them today. Many will go months asking for the same food for every meal and snack. They drive you crazy by eating only a bite or two of a meal at a time, and then coming back upset that you cleaned up. The good news is you CAN get picky toddlers to eat.
Try These Tips & Tricks
The first key to feeding picky eaters is to give them a bit more say in what they eat. Give your child a choice between things you are ok with, like an apple or a banana. By giving the illusion of choice, you help your child feel like they have control over what they are eating. This can stop the fighting before it starts.
Give your child small meals perfect for tasting. An ice cube tray makes the perfect toddler plate. Place a bit of a different food in each cube of the tray for a toddler-friendly meal. Plates with divided sections are great as they get older. When a child sees they only have a little of each thing to try, they are more likely to eat it.
Getting picky eaters to try fresh veggies can be like pulling teeth unless you make it seem exciting. Telling them that broccoli pieces are tiny trees, and raw spinach is like a giraffe eating leaves. This makes the idea of eating these veggies fun and exciting.
Introduce the option of "no thank you" bites. When we have something new to eat, my children are expected to eat a few bites. If they don't like it, they can say "no thank you" to additional helpings. This gives them the opportunity to try it out and give it a chance without just shutting down.
Try cooking things differently or even skip cooking at all for common veggies. Flavor and texture changes with cooking, so experimenting can make a food your child refused before just perfect for your child the next time. Just keep trying.
Involve your kids in the shopping, growing, and cooking process of creating meals. When you and your child help make meals together, they are excited to get the opportunity to taste the food. Toddlers can do mall jobs like pouring pre measured ingredients and stirring, while older children can cut and scoop. The more steps you involve your child in, the bigger the impact.
Boost the nutrition of foods your picky eater does willingly eat. Picky eaters will often enjoy things like smoothies that you can pack with protein and veggies while keeping a fun fruity flavor your little one is more willing to eat.
Watch your picky eater for other signs of sensory issues. Picky eating may be a sign of sensory issues or texture aversions.
Do you have a picky eater at home? What tips and tricks have you tried?