As parents, nearly all of us have experienced the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with a picky eater. Indeed, often times no matter how hard we try or how much we plead, our little ones will refuse to eat a foods that are healthy and took quite a bit of time to prepare. We may even remember our own parents making us sit at the table until we ate our broccoli.
Of course, we certainly can’t force our children to eat anything, and sometimes they may simply reject a food because they’re in a bad mood or they aren’t feeling well. However, if your child is routinely a picky eater, there may be a number of tactics you can try to get her to open up to new foods.
Do you want your little one to broaden his palate and taste horizons? If so, consider utilizing one or more of these simple tips to get your children to try more foods.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Get Involved
Many parents know the pain and frustration associated with taking an hour (or even more) to cook a meal, only to have it rejected by the kids when they sit down at the dinner table. This can be a truly agonizing experience, realizing that all of the hard work you put into preparing the night’s food will go entirely untasted.
In this case, it is extremely important to remove your emotions from the situation as much as possible. If your child rejects the food that you prepared, simply lead by example by eating your own meal, and let it go. You can try to force your child to eat their vegetables, but doing so will only make you and your child upset. This can also attach long term negative connotations to food and make overcoming picky eating even more difficult. Children learn by example, if you want them to eat something, lead by eating it and nothing more.
Start with Small Choices – and Let Your Child Choose
One of the easiest ways to get your child to open up to new foods is by presenting her with simple, non-food-related choices, and letting her pick. For example, before the next meal that you serve, give your little one the option of eating off of her favorite plate or bowl, or using a different type of utensil than usual. Giving your child the option may make her feel a greater sense of control at the dinner table, and may even make your child so excited about the choice that she doesn’t focus on the food on the plate. This tactic may not work with every child, but it is certainly a strong place to start.
If your child just doesn’t eat very much at a time, let him have more, small meals in the day. Just try to make sure he gets enough servings of fruits and vegetables. You can always disguise the vegetables in smoothies, zucchini bread, or covering them with cheese or ketchup.
One Bite – and One Bite Only
In many cases, children will refuse to even try a bite of a food that they have never tasted before. Of course, this is all the more frustrating for parents who believe that their little one will enjoy the food, but who won’t even give it a chance.
Here, you may wish to go with a timeless strategy to get your little one to eat the food that you prepared: asking him to simply try one bite of the food on the plate, and giving him the option of stopping there if he wants. Try to only introduce one new food at a time, so as not to overwhelm her. Naturally, in some cases the child may take one bite and truly dislike the food; here, at least he has given it a shot once. However, if your child does enjoy the food, he will not only eat the rest of it, but may be more interested in trying a variety of different foods you serve him in the future. Make sure to give him praise for trying new foods, even if he doesn’t end up liking them.
Bring the Kids into the Kitchen
Finally, if your kids are old enough, consider letting them help out in the kitchen whenever you need light assistance. This could include washing the vegetables, straining pasta, or performing a number of other activities that don’t involve using sharp utensils. By letting the children participate in the cooking process, they will likely develop a greater appreciation for the food that will eventually be served on their plate during dinner. And if your little one is too young to actually help, you can still let him feel a sense of accomplishment by playing with the Stainless Steel Cookin’ Ware, the Leafy Greens Garden Set, or even the Cutting Fruit toy, all of which are perfect for children.
Getting Your Picky Eaters to Try Different Foods
Keep in mind that most kids grow out of picky eating, but if it is driving you crazy in the meantime, try these simple tips to get her to expand her palate horizons this week.