One of the most common problems that a lot of parents are facing with their growing children is their nutrition and their tendency to pick what they want to eat – and don’t want to eat. Each mealtime of the day is a struggle that a lot of parents are going through. Most toddlers and growing kids are becoming picky eaters. This is normal since at their age, it is common for them to prefer eating sweet treats and colourful snacks than eating more nutritious food such as vegetables and fish. This, of course, changes over time as your child’s food preference changes and matures with their age but them being picky eaters could take several years and would possibly greatly affect their health. Some children don’t even want to eat at all because of being distracted by playing with their toys and gadgets. This might even be harder for first-time parents than those who’ve dealt with this before but the good news is, this is normal. You’ve probably been like this before when you were a kid, and your parents probably faced the same issue and there due to generations and generations of raising children, we’ve gathered tons of solutions. Here is your guide on feeding picky eaters that will surely get your child used to eat healthy meals.
Feeding Picky Eaters Tips and Tricks
Did your child develop a habit of refusing to eat whatever you prepare on the table? Or they might throw a tantrum unless their meal isn’t composed of their favourite chicken nuggets and hotdogs? And you’re worrying about their nutritional intake and their body being filled with food made with preservatives. You are not alone; this is an issue that millions of parents are going through every day all around the world. Let’s be honest, vegetables and other healthy food have particular tastes that don’t appeal much to most children. They would even describe these nutritional food as “disgusting” and “bitter.” They would complain about how bitter the ampalaya is or how unusual the texture of an okra is, and so much more complaints. It is such an issue in your household that you’ve searched online for solutions, and maybe that’s why you are here. Fear not, here are some tips and tricks to help you avoid unnecessary arguments with your children in front of the dining table and help you on feeding picky eaters.
1. Give them options
Making your children eat healthier is not an easy task to do because of their preferences. Giving them choices first by introducing healthy food one by one according to what they would most likely choose before introducing them to other vegetables and other food. This is like a process of warming them up to these foods so they won’t get overwhelmed and choose not to eat at all. Better yet, make a list of these food and helm them pick them out. As kids, they would most likely be interested in eating colourful food such as orange and red ones. Also try introducing them to sweeter kinds of food so they’d know that eating healthy can be as delicious as eating snacks.
A lot of parents found a way of feeding healthy food to their kids by mashing these foods and hiding them in the kids’ meal. Although that this method does the trick, it is only a short-term fix and would not remove the children’s dislike to eating healthier meals. This might also have a negative effect to your children’s trust on you as they would feel like they are being fooled. This makes this method counterproductive and you don’t even know how long you can keep that up. Making your children part of choosing what healthy food they would makes them feel like they are included in your decisions especially in those that concerns them.
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2. Don’t force your children and be passive
It is a nature of children to be sensitive with aggressiveness. Although parents would do anything just to make their children eat healthier and whatever is prepared on the dining table, forcing your children to eat would make them hate that food even more. There is probably a psychology on this, it is like conditioning. By forcing your children to eat the food that you want them to eat, this would subconsciously become a negative experience to them, hence conditioning them to hate every meal time with that food because they have learned to associate that moment with a negative experience with you. Try serving meals in smaller amount so they can get used to the taste first and if your child gives a positive response, now is the time to ask them if they want more.
Respecting your children’s appetite is also important. Most children would eat anything you are offering when they are hungry, you shouldn’t force them to eat when they are not. It is not a good experience for your child to force themselves to eat the food you have prepared, as what should be a healthy and enjoyable meal could feel like a struggle to them because they are afraid of being punished.
As with all things, trying to feed your picky eating children takes time. Take it slow because when this process is forced, there is a high chance that your plan wouldn’t work and would actually have an opposite effect.
3. Have a routine and stay on time
Once you’ve managed to have your children to start eating whatever is on the table, you should not stop there. Maintaining your process of feeding them would make sure that they would be familiar with the food even more and soon enough they’ll get used to it and you won’t even have to monitor them anymore. Having a routine and a schedule for meals would condition your children’s appetite so they would have a more regular eating schedule. If your children are used to having their own time for meals, maybe because they’re distracted with playing outside or using their gadgets, it would be harder for them to eat healthier and on time.
4. Be creative and make it interactive
Feeding picky eaters is such a hard task for a parent but once you’ve managed to start having your kids eat healthier food by themselves, it’s going to be easy from there. The best way to make your plan work is to making your children involved. Most children are easily entertained and it is best to associate eating healthy meals with entertainment and fun. Try making mealtime more interactive and something your kids can look forward to every day. For example, while feeding vegetables and fruits, try asking them what colour the food is or ask them to describe the texture. In this way, mealtime can be more fun for both of you and it could also be a chance for learning and bonding.
Having your children feel involved and comfortable would make it easier for them to be introduced to meals that you prepare rather than the usual treats and unhealthy snacks that they prefer. Preparing your meals in fun and creative designs can greatly help you as well.
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5. Be a good example
Children oftentimes mimic what they see in adults. Why would they eat healthier meals when they can see their parents always munching on fast food meals, or junk food and sweets? By being a good example, your children would know that what you are trying to feed them is safe and as nutritious as what you are advertising to them. Try making this a fun activity for both you and your kids.
Feeding picky eaters is a common problem of parents worldwide but although we live different lives with different cultures the solution to this is always similar. The secret is keeping in mind that this is not a battle with you versus your children but a challenge wherein you and your kids need to team up to accomplish. Go team!
Written by Rashid Mansan