Mealtime can be the best of times, and it can be the worst of times. A picky eater can truly throw a wrench in any breakfast, lunch, or dinner plan, and don't even get us started on dining out. They just don't make enough chicken nuggets and mac and cheese in the WORLD. If you just threw your head back, and thought "Right?!" this blog is for YOU!
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to introduce new foods to your picky eaters, and get them on board...
1. Let your kiddo PICK the healthy NEW food
This way, your child gains a sense of independence and is able to feel like part of the adventure when exploring the variety of delicious healthy options.
2. Involve your kiddo in cooking
There is nothing better than teaching valuable, lifelong skills, like cooking. Involving them in the preparation of the new food they selected is a way to help them better appreciate the outcome.
3. If possible, let them feed themself
If your child is capable of eating on their own, let them! There's nothing wrong with allowing them to set their own pace, and allowing them the freedom to explore.
4. Make alternatives available
There is always a chance that your child will flat out refuse the food after tasting it. After all, even adults have foods they don't like. Make sure there are healthy back-up options that you know your kiddo will eat.
5. Set the example
Let your child see you eat and enjoy the food as well. If they see you spit it out, they probably will too.
6. Space things out
Your kiddo's taste buds will change as they grow and develop, so if they don't like something now, don't rule it out. Just give it some time-a few weeks maybe-and try again!
2 Important Tips for Parents and Guardians
We know it's frustrating, but there is power in not reacting to the negative behavior. Allow them some space, and, when fully zen, bring out the alternative while noting the importance of trying new things.
No "second meal" deal
Don't let your child's refusal to eat what's prepared pressure you into making them a second meal. This is a good time for a teaching moment that shows them that when you make dinner, your child can choose to eat it, or wait until the next meal. This is totally okay!
The American Academy of Pediatrics says "Trust that if your child is truly hungry, they will eat. It can be hard to stay firm and be patient, but it's worth it. By being consistent, you will help your child become a healthy eater"
What Real Parents and Guardians Are Saying
"We try not to push or bargain. He gets more stubborn under pressure."
"Her appetite varies from day to day and she seems to know how much food she needs, so I try not to worry if she eats a little less or skips a meal."
"Our pediatrician says that it's my job to offer healthy meals and snacks, and it's my child's job to decide when and how much to eat."