If you are the parent of a picky eater it’s easy to understand how frustrating this might be at times, however, studies show that picky eating is a normal rite of passage for children. Picking eating can often be avoided or be less of a problem if you expose your child to a variety of foods at a young age. If you are already dealing with fussy eaters then it’s important to use the following tips to overcome this obstacle. The most common mistake that some parents make is they give in. Because their kids aren’t eating they allow them to eat sugary or salty unhealthy snacks just in order for them to be “eating something”, this can lead to various life-long bad eating habits.
Respect their Appetite
One important rule is to respect your child’s appetite. Children are still growing and so are their stomachs meaning that they are still small and cannot hold as much food as we think. If your child says they’re not hungry it’s important to not force a meal or snack on them. Likewise bribing your child to eat their food or finish what is on their plate is unhealthy and will start bad habits. Try to serve your child small portions; this will avoid overwhelming your child and will give them the opportunity to ask for more food if they feel hungry.
Stick to the Same-old Routine
Children need routine in their life, when there is a change in their routines this is often when problems arise. When it comes to meals, it’s important to stick to a routine with your kiddies. Try to serve meals and snacks at the same time every day. It’s important not to offer too many snacks throughout the day because this will decrease their appetite and they will most likely not be hungry when it’s time for a meal.
Being patient with foods is very important when dealing with young children. Children use many of their senses when it comes to new foods, they like to touch, smell and taste new foods when they encounter them. It’s common for your child to require repeated exposure to a new food before they even try to take their first bite of it. Try to encourage your kids to eat these new foods by picking a variety of foods with many different shapes colours and textures. A great tip when experimenting with new foods is to pair them along with your child’s favourite foods, this way they are comfortable with some of the food on their plate.
Make Eating Fun
A final tip is to make eating fun and interesting for your children, they will be less likely to be fussy or icky! Try cutting food into different shapes, by simply using different cookie cutters, and serve a variety of brightly coloured foods! Another way to make meals fun for kids is to let them plan or choose their meals! If you incorporate this into their eating once a week it will keep them excited and also let them be involved in the process.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador