How to handle picky eaters?
Picky eating habits is often seen in growing toddlers and pre-schoolers. Once infancy is over, and the babies almost triple in weight, the growth rate of toddlers and their appetite slows down. They start developing their own food preferences, somewhat a fickle-mind procedure. The favourite food your toddler may be his most un-preferred food, just the next day. And his most disliked food may suddenly come to his favourite list. And for days, they will only eat this food item and nothing else.
But, this fickleness shouldn’t be treated with frustration. All you need to do is make some healthy food options available to them and level out eating behaviours and appetite of your child. Till then, you have to some tips on how to handle the picky eater stage of your child’s life.
- Eat together – Share your meal with family members frequently. Avoid media distractions like phones and TV. Inculcate healthy eating habits in your child. Serve one meal for all the family members. It will make your child accept what’s being served. Different choices may encourage their picky eating habits. Make sure you include one favourite food of your child in every meal to make his diet balanced.
- Do not food fight -If your baby is refusing a food item, do not fuss over it. Children should listen to their body and handle their hunger and learn to manage it. If you have had a big breakfast or lunch, do not force them to eat much for the other part of the day. It is your duty to provide food to them, but it is the decision of your child to eat it. Do not pressurize your kids to eat or punish them if they leave food.
- Do not bribe your baby – Tempting may be good in the beginning, but do not bribe your kids every time with treats to inculcate other food eating habits. It can make the prize food more appealing and the normal food more displeasing. It may also lead to battles at the dining table.
- Keep trying and trying – If your child has refused food once, then you shouldn’t give it. Keep presenting it in front of them in different way. It may take 10 times for a food to get accepted by your toddler’s taste buds. Limit the snacking hours and schedule meals to ensure that your baby feels hungry at the right time.
- Variety is good – Offer different types of healthy foods, more fruits and veggies and put in a good amount of protein food too. Give new flavors and textures to your child to explore. Try to include spices and herbs in meals to make them rich in taste. Cook small amounts to minimize wastage and wait for at least two weeks before introducing new food.
- Make food fun – Toddlers love to try new food and appealing and creative ways appeals more to them. Make food look irresistible to them by presenting them in different patterns, shapes and colours. Kids of this age love to enjoy food with dips. Finger foods are also their favourite. Cut solid foods to different shape to get their attention. Make sure they are small in size to avoid choking.
- Plan meals with kids – Make sure you include your toddler’s growing interest while cooking food. Pick those veggies, fruits and non-veg stuff which your baby prefers. Going for baby-friendly cookbook will also help you try new recipes.
- Mini chef – Make your toddlers stir, count ingredients, choose herbs and do assistant stuff when you are cooking food. It will help them try the dish in which they have put their efforts.
- Crossing bridges – If the food has tickled the taste buds of your child, then consult a nutritionist to find out how to add more flavour, colour, nutrition, texture in to enhance its variety. For instance, if your baby eats pumpkin pie, then you can also go for sweet potato and mashed carrot
- Mix and match – Try to serve unfamiliar food with familiar food. Your child may eat it well. He may dislike it in the beginning but in haste to eat familiar food, the will give non-preferred food also a taste. For instance, pair grated cheese with broccoli and it will surely be a good surprise for your toddler’s taste buds.
If you are very much concerned about the eating habits of your child, then speak to a paediatrician. It will help troubleshoot the problem and ensure that your child is consuming all the vital nutrients daily. Remember picky eating is normal in the growing stage of your child, but you should learn to deal with it patiently.