NOTE: The Jackson Parish Journal is pleased to introduce Jennifer Stone as a special guest contributor. Stone is a Community Outreach Coordinator for Yumble Kids, LLC which specializes in publishing recipes and providing informational content about children nutrition for busy parents.
Picky eating refers to when someone either refuses to eat certain foods or only has the same thing over and over again. Sound familiar? This is commonly seen in toddlers, so you’re not alone if you’re trying to deal with it. This article will give you some practical tips for how to deal with your picky eater.
Tip 1: Keep it Healthy
As tempting as it may be, don’t give in to your child’s demands for sugary snacks! When making healthy lunches for kids, you should ensure they’re balanced, with a range of fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. It’s absolutely critical that you eat healthy food yourself, as your child will learn from your behavior.
Tip 2: Make it Familiar
Parents’ and children’s food preferences have been shown to be linked. This isn’t particularly surprising because, as parents, we tend to prepare foods that we like to eat ourselves. Familiarity is pivotal regarding tackling picky eating; children may need to try certain foods as many as ten times before they’ll accept eating them properly.
Tip 3: Make it Together
There is a wealth of research that shows just how beneficial it is to involve your child in the process of meal preparation. This could be simple things like setting the table or mixing ingredients in a bowl, but it’s even better if your little one can get involved with the actual cooking. This will improve your child’s time management and planning skills, as well as their math abilities (weights and measures). As well as that, they’ll learn about potential hazards in the kitchen and how certain meals are prepared. Most importantly for you, they will have pride in the work they have done, making it more likely that they’ll eat the food. Ultimately, that’s what we’re aiming for with our picky eaters.
Tip 4: Show it’s Yummy
If you appear to dislike a particular food, or if you’re a picky eater yourself, your child is likely to emulate that reaction, as has been shown in scientific research. Therefore, it’s important that you lead by example and not show negative feelings when trying new foods with your little one.
Tip 5: Cook it Differently
Keep track of what your child does and does not like to eat. Bear in mind that this will change as their senses develop through their early years. Nonetheless, if they’re refusing to eat ‘mushy’ foods, give them a sliced apple instead of applesauce or boiled potatoes rather than mashed. They’ll still be eating the foods that you want them to and that are good for them, just in a different way. If you really want them to eat the ‘mushy’ food, combine it with something more solid that you know they already like. For example, let them dip crackers in the apple sauce.
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