Don’t we all love kids? I mean they come in unique packages of cheerfulness, loving smiles, happy faces and tenderness; but that quickly fades away when it’s meal time and they’re being picky about it.
It’s quite normal that children at some point in their development respond differently to foods and start being selective with what they choose to eat. As annoying as this sounds, it’s an undeniable reality some parents face and a quite frustrating one. But there is some comforting news.
What some parents often perceive as picky eating in their children, is a change in their normal response to food. In most cases, both new foods and familiar ones. Kids are naturally ‘neophobic’ which means that they have an innate fear of new things, and FOOD is no exception!
This habit is common in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years as they often have very few favorite foods and don’t mind eating them every day. So, what do you do when your child’s a picky eater? How do you make sure meal time is as interesting as playtime? How do you help them look forward to breakfast, lunch and more importantly dinner?
Here are 7 tips you should keep in mind.
Allow your kids engage with their food
Many mum's dread the idea of kids messing up food items during meal preparation and the distraction they can be, having them around while trying to make food.
Just as people would feel more involved with a project if they’re delegated smaller tasks that helps achieve the bigger goal, children will equally be more curious and interested in what meals you’re making if you engage them in the process. The trick behind this is to get them curious!
For smaller kids you could offer them meshed fish or meat as you cook. You can have the older one’s smell, feel and even taste food items as you prepare meals. If they’re old enough, you could get them to do some chores, like passing the salt or Maggie. Ultimately let your kids be a part of the savory experience as you cook!
Make new foods familiar
Picky eaters very often are selective of new foods, because they are not familiar with them. Most times they reject familiar foods as well. While the reason isn’t known, there are ways to make new foods familiar. You can try offering them new foods in a calm and familiar environment, you can also try spicing up the mix with sweet fruits to get them more interested in their meals.
It’s okay if they make a mess
If your child is an impulsive one, chances are that during meal times, he would want to reach out for his food and feed himself. If this has started happening or happens quite often, allow him make a mess...Yes! You may want to offer him a spoon so he can attempt feeding himself.
Sometimes kids refuse spoon feeding, so try finger feeding. Be creative with feeding your kids, so, they have something to look forward to during meal times.
Pay attention to the textures they like
With foods like custard, cereal, fried or boiled foods, children prefer certain textures to others. Your child may prefer crunchy fries to soggy ones, or thicker porridge to less thick ones. Consider their preference when making their meals and watch how eager they’ll be to eat once its meal time.
Serve small portions of food
Kids feel overwhelmed when you serve them large portions of food. So, you may want to play with their plates a little when serving meals.
One trick that works is serving smaller food portions on larger plates. You can spice up meal times with activities like singing songs to your little darlings as they eat, or allowing them stick their hands into their food to make a mess. It’s all part of the experience.
Offer rewards for eating new foods or finishing a meal
By offering kids sweet treats as a reward for eating up a main meal, you’re setting up an ideology in their little minds that eating healthy foods comes with a treat right after. Which means mummy would give a treat, and that excites them.
It might just be very effective in getting them to eat up as they await their reward for finishing a meal.
As tiring as it gets when your child refuses new foods, it’s okay. Try not to show your frustration so as not to create tension between you and your child.
Put the food away in the refrigerator and try again later, you can serve him something else in the meantime.
Just like with strangers, children don’t get comfortable with them on the first day, but as they become familiar with them they are more welcoming. Same works for new foods.
As we try to get our children to eat healthy, its crucial to consider their preference with food textures and their moods as well. Forcing a child to eat up isn’t always the best solution as it results in a lot of fussing, screaming and loud cries. Make sure to adopt a creative, friendly and calm technique that works best for you and your child to help them eat healthier foods so they can stay strong and happy.
If you loved reading this article, leave a comment below. You can also share with friends.