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10 tips for parents of a picky eater

We spoke about developing food preferences in one of our previous articles. This might result in different behaviour for each child. Some children will continue to eat lots of different foods, and other will have more difficulties accepting certain foods. Some children might even refuse to eat lots of food. This is a challenging situation and it's important to handle it right.

Toddler says no

If you've noticed your child becoming pickier with their food, you're not alone. Picky eating is a normal part of children's development, but it can be challenging for parents. In this article, we'll share ten tips to help parents of picky eaters navigate mealtime with less stress and more success.

Understanding Picky Eating in Children

Before we dive into the tips, it's important to understand that picky eating is a normal phase of childhood. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, sensory issues, or a desire for control. The good news is that most children grow out of picky eating as they get older. In the meantime, there are things you can do to encourage your child to try new foods.

In our article on how to prevent picky eating, we share strategies to prevent picky eating and helping our kids to be more accepting towards food. However, if you are noticing some signs of picky eating we wanted to list some easy to apply strategies to help your child, and yourself.

Here are some things that you can take into account that can make a big difference. Small tweaks in your routine or what you serve can have a big impact.

10 tips for parents of a picky eater

1. Introduce a 'no thank you bowl'

One effective strategy is to introduce a "no thank you bowl" at mealtime. This is a small bowl where your child can place food they don't want to eat. This takes the pressure off your child to eat everything on their plate and helps them feel more in control of their choices

2. Start with smaller servings

Another tip is to start with smaller servings. This can be less overwhelming for a picky eater, and they'll know they can always ask for more if they're still hungry.

3. Try giving simple tasks before and during meals

Encouraging your child to participate in meal prep can also help them feel more invested in the food. Simple tasks like pouring water, serving food, or stirring soup can give them a sense of ownership and make them more willing to try new things.

4. Offer something to sprinkle over the meal

Adding a sprinkle of something can make mealtime more fun and appealing for kids. It can be something as simple as a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few chocolate chips. This can help make new foods less intimidating and more enjoyable.

5. Let your child choose their own plate

Giving your child the freedom to choose their own plate can also make mealtime more fun and engaging. They'll be more likely to enjoy using it and eating from it, and it can help them feel more in control of their choices.

6. Offer two healthy options to choose from

When possible, offer your child two healthy options to choose from and stick with these choices. This can help them feel more in control of their decisions and make mealtime less stressful for everyone.

7. Offer one safe ingredient during every meal

To make your child feel more comfortable and more likely to try new foods, include one safe ingredient during every meal. This could be something like bread or a favourite vegetable.

8. Keep different foods separate

If your child doesn't like different foods to touch each other, keep them separate. This can help them feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed by different flavours and textures.

9. Stick to a mealtime routine

Stick to a mealtime routine to help your child know when to expect food. Consistency can reduce stress and anxiety around mealtime.

10. Keep offering lots or variety

It can take A LOT of tries before a child start liking something. Have patience and don't be discouraged if they don't like it at first.

Above all, stay patient, kind and consistent. This means that we stick with our meal time routine, even if your child has barely eating the last meal. Resist the temptation to always go back to foods you know your child likes. Stick the course but never force anything. If your child doesn't want to eat, that's ok. Next time better!