Seeing other people’s kids eat vegetables used to amaze me. Were they born obedient, veggie loving unicorn babies who grew into toddlers that politely ate everything their parents served them? I like to think so because that means that I don’t have to go buy veggies that even I don’t like, and try to get my kids to eat them. Don’t get me wrong, not all kids hate veggies and trying new foods, but if you have a picky eater in your house (adults included, lol), you know the struggle is all too real. With a few new strategies, your child can learn to try and like new foods– even veggies!
When introducing a new food it is all about how and when. Here are some tips to help picky eaters expand their horizons:
Offer your child(ren) a variety of foods:
The reality is we get into a routine of offering what our kids like because we know they will eat it. But if we constantly offer them the same food, they won’t learn to eat a variety or try new foods. Do your best to vary the options so they are getting exposed to different items.
Avoid pressuring your child to eat
Meals are prime traps for power struggles. Don’t fall into the trap! Avoid using bribes, tricks, or punishments to get your child to eat. The reality is that they have some control and shared responsibility in choosing to eat. If you force it, you will end up in a battle of wills. Check out the previous article on shared meal time responsibilities between you and your child.
Introduce a new food when your child is healthy and hungry
This is the when part of the equation. If your child is sick and doesn’t have much of an appetite, getting them to eat broccoli for the first time is going to be a losing battle. Yes its a veggie, yes its good for them when they are sick, but think about what you want to eat when you are sick. Chicken noodle soup and anything in carb form. You wouldn’t even want to eat the broccoli. The same logic applies if your child has been snacking all day: it is very unlikely that you will get them to eat a meal that they actually like, let alone something new or green. Lol. Make sure they are healthy and hungry!
Offer with familiar foods they like
I love this strategy and use it ALL THE TIME! If I put cucumber, with carrots and blueberries, my preschooler would run for the hills – I’d be hard pressed to even get him to the table. But if I prepare his lunch with items I know he loves, and add one new food to introduce him to, he is much more open. I like to have a hook on the plate, something I know will get him to the table. Usually its cheese or strawberries, but I am not above serving cheese and strawberries with every meal if it gets him to the table to try new foods.
Include your child in the buying and preparing of the food
I don’t know about you, but my boys love to help me shop for groceries. They enjoy being involved in the process of CHOOSING items they want to try. You could even turn it into a game where each time you take them shopping, you allow them to pick out a new (healthy) food to try. Children love to feel involved and to have a voice. They are little humans after all, and they want to feel a sense of control and independence. Foster that desire to choose by getting them involved in the shopping, or by getting them to help with age appropriate prep and cooking in the kitchen.
When all else fails, sit down for a break with your own food and watch your kids come running. Ha! I’m only kind of joking. Anytime my husband or I make a snack for ourselves, our children act as if they’ve never been fed. In all seriousness, if you have a picky eater, I’d love to hear what strategies have worked for you in the comments below!
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