"I don't like that!", "I won't eat anything green!", "Yuck", "I want something else", "I'm allergic to vegetables"...If any of these are familiar phrases at meal time, you are not alone. Many parents struggle with finding foods that will please the picky palates of their kids. Although I don't have any children of my own yet, I have had many experiences feeding children while babysitting and I know it's not always an easy task! Kids can get pretty creative when it comes to finding excuses to get themselves out of eating what's on their plate. Even though it may be frustrating when your child says "no" to the foods you serve, just remember not to give up!
Here are some great tips from Dietitians of Canada that may help when feeding your picky eater:
- Add pureed or minced vegetables to spaghetti sauce, hamburgers, soups, muffins or bread.
- Offer some nutritious foods that contain fat like peanut or soynut butter, milk or cheese.
- Satisfy children’s thirst with water. Drinking lots of juice can fill up their little stomachs so that they are not hungry at regular meal times.
- Try new foods in small amounts and in a form that your toddler can easily handle.
- Although parents and caregivers are responsible for what, when and where children eat, children are responsible for how much and whether they eat.
Ellyn Satter is a Registered Dietitian who is known for her expertise in child nutrition. Throughout my university career, I have learned a lot about Ellyn Satter and her great tips and tricks on how to feed children effectively. I like that she really inspires parents to be the best they can be - she is very empowering!
When it comes to picky eating, Ellyn Satter recommends:
- Teach her to say “no, thank you" rather than "YUK." Have her leave the table if she behaves badly.
- Be family friendly with meals. Pair unfamiliar with familiar food, not-yet-liked with liked foods. Don't make special food for her.
- Be sure to put one or two foods on the menu that she ordinarily eats. Bread and milk would work.
- Let her pick and choose from what you put on the table, even if she eats five slices of bread and nothing else.
- Teach her to use her napkin to get food back out of her mouth when she discovers she doesn't want to swallow. (Teach yourself this trick, as well. It will make you braver about trying new food!)
I hope these tips give you hope that you can help your child combat their picky eating habits! It will get easier over time :)
Tip: It can take up to 15-20 tries of food before a child learns to like it!