I was an extremely picky eater as a child, and frankly I don’t know how my parents put up with it. I simply refused to eat something that I didn’t like, or didn’t think I would like. I heard all the stories about starving children in China, and how I needed to eat more I wanted to be healthy, but it really had no impact at all.
Fortunately for parents today, there’s lots of readily available information they can turn to, to help with issues like this. So, in line with the, I’ve put together a selection of tips that may be able to help you get your picky eater to eat.
Before we get to that however, it’s probably worthwhile to point out that there are valid reasons why your toddler may just want to pick at their food. Think of how much growth a child does from birth to one year of age. They typically triple their birth weight, and that’s an enormous amount of rapid growth. After that, growth evens off a little bit, and children begin to gain weight more slowly. So clearly, they don’t need as much food to fuel their body. They’re eating patterns of changed, and everything is very different for them. They may even be fine one day, and the next day not be interested in food much at all. Between the ages of one and three years of age, toddlers need between 1, 000 and 1,300 cal a day. But don’t panic if they don’t get this in a single day — instead, if necessary, try to aim for a week that is nutritionally balanced, if you can’t manage a day that is nutritionally balanced.
Let Them Nibble — If you can get them to sit send eat a balanced meal, why not put out a tray of foods that they can nibble on? It doesn’t have to be an actual food tray, can be a muffin tin or perhaps one of those compartmentalized Tupperware dishes. Any sort of dish that you can put bite-size pieces of food in. Now select a variety of colorful and nutritious finger foods, and put the selection somewhere that is easy for them to reach.
Dunk It — If you’re not interested in having to clean up the trail of dip off the floor, or splashes off the walls in your furniture, I don’t recommend leaving the dip out with the food tray mentioned above. But if you have them sitting somewhere safe for a snack, or even at meal time, why not give them the option of something to dunk their food in. You can use things like cottage or cream cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, or variety of other things. They can dip fruit or vegetable spears or chunks, perhaps hunks of bread, or any other nutritious food that makes sense to dip.
Smoothies — Smoothies are all the rage these days, so if your child would rather drink, then eat, why not consider putting a smoothly together for them. There are all kinds of healthy foods, you can add to a base of milk and fruit that will provide them with the nutritional meal.
Fun Cookie Cutters — If their food suddenly becomes fun, you might have a better chance of getting them to eat it. So consider buying some cookie cutter shapes, which you can usually find quite cheaply in dollar stores, and cut their sandwiches or pancakes or anything else into interesting shapes.
Copycat — If there’s something that your child refuses to eat, one way to get them to change their mind might be to invite another child to the meal, whom you know likes whatever food x is. If your child sees that the other child will eat it and enjoy it, they may learn by example.
Breakfast for Dinner — there’s no strict rule that says breakfast foods must be eaten in the morning, and your traditional dinner time foods eaten in the evening. If your toddler would prefer to eat breakfast foods later in the day, let them do it. It’s important that they eat the right foods in the day, not what time of the day they eat them at.
Calories Count — If your child is a picky eater, and typically only eats small amounts of food, pack as much nutrition and calories into those small amounts as is possible. Look for foods that are nutrient rich, so there’s a better chance that at the end of the day, they’ve taken in the necessary amount of nutrition and calories. Foods like pasta, potatoes, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, chicken, fish, and a variety of other foods should be included in their diet.
Make Food Accessible — Lines your child have some favorite foods or drinks? That are also nutritional? If so, make those readily available to your child if they are picky eaters. Perhaps a dedicated lower shelf in a cupboard, or if they can get the refrigerator door open, a lower shelf in the refrigerator as well. Obviously you’re going to have to be careful that other foods aren’t in reach as well. But this gives the child the opportunity to snack when they want or need to.
Learn to Relax — This tip is for you, not your child. Sometimes you’re just going to have to relax and go with the flow. If your child will only eat a certain food prepared in a certain way, just learn to live with it for the time being. The good news is that most picky eaters grow out of this stage. I never did, but hopefully you’ll have better luck with your own child.