It can take a lot of work to deal with a picky eater. When I was young, I wanted three things for lunch and three things only: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, and a peanut butter sandwich-hold the jelly-with the crusts cut off. Picky eater doesn’t even begin to describe it and yet, that palette was broken eventually thanks to my diligent parents.
Constantly encouraging one’s children to try new foods can be taxing. However, it really is in a child’s best interest to help them overcome their fears of tomatoes or worse yet, the dreaded green vegetable. Being overly picky can cause nutritional deficiencies, and it paves the way for their diet later on in life.
Here are a few ways parents can help turn their picky eaters into foodies:
Just one bite. Many parents find some amount of success with the “just one bite” strategy. Though there may be an initial battle, it is beneficial to require your child to try different foods, if only for a taste. After having tried it, the child is free to eat something else so there is less resentment of the new food. Although he/she may still put up a fuss, it will not be as bad as it would be if required to eat all of it. Plus, sometimes the child is pleasantly surprised and finds that he actually enjoys the new food.
Cutting foods into creative shapes. Presentation may not be everything, but it certainly is runner-up in the way a child reacts to food. Sometimes, a child won’t eat a peanut butter sandwich that is square-shaped but will eat one that’s shaped like a dinosaur (honestly, who wouldn’t?). Feel free to get creative and use shapes that you think your child will like.
Hiding foods. Have you ever caught your picky little one hiding food that he/she doesn’t like? Now’s the time for you to get your revenge! Well, kind of… Instead of their method of “hiding food” on the floor for the dog to clean up or in their toy with that neat little compartment, you can hide foods by blending them up into sauces or smoothies. For example, a carrot can go into a fruit smoothie, and zucchinis can be cooked into sauces. It’s the perfect way to serve them up important nutrients without even knowing it.
Prepare a wide variety of foods. One of the best things that you can do to encourage your child to try new foods is to offer an array of new items. If you have a set menu of the things you do and do not prepare, don’t be surprised if your child develops a similarly rigid list of the foods they will and will not eat. Making a wide variety of dishes exposes your child to different flavors, and it gets them in the habit of trying new things.
Try it again. Learning to like a new food frequently takes a little work, and it often takes a number of different experiences with a given food before a child decides that he likes it. Plus, children’s tastes mature with age. So, just because your child didn’t like the casserole the last time you tried it, doesn’t mean you have to give it up. Wait a little while, and then try it again. Chances are good that your child will eventually come around.
If all else fails, show them a clip from Popeye-isn’t that how we all learned to like spinach?
Got something even better up your sleeve? If you have any tips on how to break down a picky eater, share below!