You’ve just prepared a healthy family dinner and your little one has pushed away all of his broccoli (again). Sound familiar? Planning meals around a picky eater isn’t easy, but there are actions you can take to end the power struggle. Here are 9 things you can do to manage a picky eater.
1. Keep a schedule
Consistency is key. Keeping a regular schedule will allow children to be hungry just in time for their meal, meaning they may be open to trying new foods. Try to avoid too many snacks in between meals, or your little one may not be hungry when it’s time for a meal
2. Cook a variety
It’s important to serve options so don’t force yourself to cook only foods that you know your child will eat. You won’t want to forget to include new foods as an option or sides that they may still feel a little unsure about so they will continue to be exposed to it.
3. Eat a range of foods yourself
Children love to watch and mimic what their parents do. If you keep your diet well balanced and full of different types of meals, they will be more likely to try the dishes for themselves. If you try something that even you don’t like, try to not to show disgust as you don’t want your child to assume they will not enjoy it either.
4. Try cooking foods in a different ways
If vegetables like brussels sprouts doesn’t get your child excited, try cooking them in a different way, like by roasting them or sprinkling bits of bacon on top. Keeping your recipes fun and exciting is a great way to ensure your little one won’t get tired of his or her food.
5. Use healthy dips
If you’re struggling to get your child to like vegetables, adding healthy dips to their snack routine may help. Opt for snacks like hummus, yogurt, or even low-fat salad dressing. Check out our other ways to get kids excited about eating vegetables.
6. Involve your child in the kitchen
Children may be more receptive to trying new foods if they have a hand in helping you prepare it. This allows them to taste, smell, and handle the food, which will make them more comfortable. Ask them to do small tasks you can supervise, like dropping fruit into the bowl or counting how many carrots are on the baking sheet.
7. Be open to their eating habits
I personally don’t like when my food touches, so if you find your child may be in the same boat, offer them a clean plate where they can serve themselves (with your help, of course). If they prefer to feed themselves, offer finger foods or cut up their meal into small bites. Little changes like this will make mealtime easier for the both of you.
8. Pay attention to texture
Some children may struggle with texture which is why they don’t like certain foods. Does your child have an issue with “mushy” foods, like mashed potatoes or applesauce? Try offering the same mushy foods but in their original form, like baked “fries” or apple slices. In this case, you could also offer a crunchy cracker for them to dip into the mush. If your child continues to have issues with texture, contact your pediatrician.
9. Use positivity as a bargaining chip
You never want to force your child to eat their broccoli, but it can be difficult when they want to assert their independence. Instead of using negative phrases like, “If you don’t eat your broccoli, you won’t be able to watch TV tonight,” try spinning in it a positive manner like, “Eating your broccoli will make you strong and fast for tomorrow’s softball game.”