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10 Ways to Stop Your Child From Becoming a Picky Eater

November 8, 2021 • Our Blog • General Health
10 Ways to Stop Your Child From Becoming a Picky Eater
Food preferences are normal, but picky eating can be difficult and worrisome when it comes to children. Here are some ways parents can prevent it before it starts.

All kids are picky eaters in some way and at some point during their childhood. But it’s far easier to prevent picky eating than it is to address it after the fact. That’s why parents should nip these habits in the bud before they fully take root!

Here are 10 different ways for parents to combat picky eating early in life, before your child turns two years old:

Foster independent eating with finger foods

When babies are about eight months old, they begin to use their pincer grasp (pressing together the pointer finger and thumb) to grab food. As soon as your baby shows signs of this behavior, encourage it by giving them finger foods they can grab themselves.

Introduce new foods of different varieties

Serve your child food options that offer a wide selection of colors, textures, and flavors. Offer three to five food options at once (including one new option and an established favorite) so your baby can experience the differences between them. A child can be exposed to a food for up to 15 times before finally trying it, so be patient!

Respond appropriately to your child’s reactions

This doesn’t mean scolding your child for not eating or praising them for scarfing down dinner — rewarding or punishing eating behaviors can lead to food issues in the future. If your kid doesn’t want their food, calmly and cheerfully take the plate away until they’re ready to try it again.

Avoid avoiding messes

It’s normal for young children to touch, play, and smell new foods. You should let your child experience in whatever ways make sense to them, even if it’s messy. Excessive cleaning during mealtimes can make eating a stressful experience for your child.

Stick to a routine

Parents should serve meals and snacks around the same time each day. This helps establish a pattern for your child’s “stomach clock” and allows you to stagger out meals, snacks, and bottle feeds. If your child chooses to not eat a meal, you can replace the snack afterwards with a more nutritious option. 

Make mealtimes a communal activity

Sit with your child while they eat, and eat whatever they’re eating with them. Try to talk about what you’re eating without focusing on your child’s eating habits. This can include commenting on a food’s texture or scent. Make sure to talk about more than just food, though!

Minimize distractions

Don’t use music, books, television, or other devices to get your child to eat. While this might seem like a good solution for picky eaters, they will quickly rely on distraction during meals. 

Limit sweets as much as possible

An overload of sweets is not healthy and can actually encourage picky eating! It probably isn’t realistic to ban sweets from your house entirely, but save them for the occasional treat. Avoid using treats as a reward for eating. 

Be creative and have fun!

Use cookie cutters to create food of various shapes. Serve breakfast for dinner. Give your kid a selection of dips for their veggies. See what your picky eater responds to! Note: Avoid giving your child raw foods like sushi and honey, which can be dangerous.

Set an example

Kids look up to their parents, especially during early childhood. If you eat a wide variety of healthy foods, your child will likely do the same. 

Following these healthy eating habits early on can keep your kid from becoming a picky eater. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your child’s eating habits, especially if they’re extra picky! For parents seeking help, schedule a consultation with Kids’ Health today....