Trying to get little ones to eat a variety of foods (including vegetables- every young child’s nemesis) can be a battle. They can turn their noses up at different textures and tastes and leave parents frazzled. Unless you want to end up catering for them separately for the rest of your parenting life, you’ll need to handle picky eaters by arming yourself with some of these tips:
Serve up the same dinner for the whole family
Even if you know your child might not be keen on spaghetti bolognese or chicken korma, make it anyway. Eating the same meal together encourages children to copy adults, and try new things.
Relax about portion sizes and the amount eaten
Don’t get too het up about the whole plate being cleared at dinner time. As long as children are getting something from each of the main food groups a day (fruit and veg, starchy carbs, dairy and protein) it’s ok.
Reduce snack options
If kids know that they have free reign over the biscuit tin or can grab a bag of Pom Bears whenever they like, they may be discouraged from eating their meals. One mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack should be enough. Some healthy snack options might include yoghurt, a banana, or bread and butter.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again!
if you’ve given your little one green beans with their cottage pie and the beans were rejected, don’t write them off. Small kid’s tastes change often, so try the same foods later.
Small portions are enough
You might be tempted to heap portions of food up with the idea that kids can eat as much as they want. However, big portions can be off-putting. Make portions child-appropriate.
Congratulate them for the little wins
Did your daughter try a mouthful of rice today? Praise her for giving a new food a go.
When a food is rejected
Remain calm and remove the ‘offending’ food without saying anything. Try again with it another day.
Make mealtimes an enjoyable family affair
While it can be tempting to stick Peppa Pig on the tv and scroll through Instagram while eating dinner, instead aim to make mealtimes time for you to be together. Not only does talking and being sociable help take children’s minds off being picky, but it also helps families bond.
When your child eats with the pace of a tortoise
It can be annoying, but give them time. Feeling relaxed at mealtimes helps them eat well.
Change up how food is served for success
Maybe raw tomatoes were rejected, but perhaps whizzing them up into a pasta sauce or baking them will work better for your child?
Avoid using food as a reward
As soon as children receive the message that treat foods are associated with success (e.g. awarding them McDonalds or sweets for being good) it gives them the impression that some foods are ‘good’ (i.e. fun and associated with joy) and others are boring (e.g. those limp pieces of broccoli that they are not keen on). Therefore, aim to avoid using foods as a reward and offer other ‘prizes’ like visiting Grandma.