When a child is picky it can make mealtimes feel impossible. Here are a few pointers to help make it more successful.
Remember you’re the caregiver: you decide what is served, when it is served and where it is served.
What: Keep them interested with different foods in different ways at each meal. If the child requests the same thing for several weeks or months, continue offering it with a variety of foods from all four food groups and do not get concerned as long as it is nutritious. Serve new foods in small portions along with familiar food. Every time a child sees, tastes or smells a food it increases the chance he or she will try it.
When: Set regular meal and snack times. Avoid grazing to avoid having the child come to the table already full.
Where: Seat children at the table securely in a high chair or booster seat. Avoid distractions during mealtime such as the TV or toys.
The child’s only responsibility at meal time is to decide if and how much to eat of the food they’re served. That will change for a variety of reasons, including growth spurts, physical activity and tiredness. Trust that they know when they are hungry and when they are full.
Children should look forward to mealtime. Do your best to keep it pleasant and relaxed. Avoid using praise, rewards, tricks, or punishments to encourage eating. Children are sensitive to pressure. Allow them to relax and enjoy the time you spend together.
Skipping the occasional meal is okay. If the child is growing well, eating from all four food groups, and seems healthy and happy, then don’t worry! Only offer supplements if directed by a healthcare provider.
For more tips on dealing with picky eaters and healthy meal and snack ideas visit www.eatrightontario.ca. You can also speak with a Registered Dietitian for free at 1-877-510-510-2.