At some point in most children’s lives, they become a picky eater. Whether it’s the color, flavor, or texture of the offending foods, it can be frustrating for parents. And some days you may even wonder if your child will eat anything at all. In a preferred diet of solely potato chips and fruit snacks, what can you do to add a little variety to your child’s plate? Here are some tips to encourage your picky child to eat.
First, you must realize that being picky is normal child behavior. You are doing nothing wrong as a parent. Although it varies from child to child, most toddlers all go through a phase where they start getting a little selective about what they eat. In fact, even something they previously loved become “icky. So, read on to learn a few tips that will make it easier to get your picky child to enjoy eating again.
Offer a Variety of Foods to Your Picky Child
Sometimes you just need to put out a variety of foods for your child to experiment with at each meal. Offer a small veggie or fruit tray and slice foods into varying shapes. Use different textures: creamy avocados, crunchy and juicy apples, or soft bananas. Provide thinly sliced carrots, fresh cucumber, and broccoli.
Does your picky child enjoy yogurt or peanut butter? Add some dips for your child to experiment with often. And don’t be afraid to let them dip everything in ketchup or ranch dressing. The experimentation is part of the eating adventure.
How to Get Your Picky Child to Eat Meat
Meat is often harder to add to a child’s diet than fruits and vegetables. So, offer finger-sized foods. Chicken and fish are generally kid-friendly. But, don’t be ashamed to bake some frozen breaded tenders and add them to your kid’s plate. Boil an egg and cut it in half or let them have it whole.
Also, tofu is another protein and calorie dense food that people don’t often think about providing. So, cut some tofu into cubes. Cook and season it as your child prefers it. Even a picky child loves eating the tiny little tofu cubes, and most kids enjoy the texture. Are you still struggling to convince your child to try meat?
You could always prepare a protein smoothie. Combine milk with Greek yogurt or peanut butter. Add fruits, veggies, juices, and even egg protein or other acceptable protein powders. This will give your busy child a little bit of a nutrient boost during the day.
Other Foods Your Picky Child May Enjoy Eating
Be sure to talk to your pediatrician before offering your child any food they could be allergic to. Aside from that, you can offer your child the following healthy options:
- Whole grain pasta, with and without sauce.
- Cheese like string cheese, sticks, cubes, squares and slices.
- Celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter.
- Beans of all types, cooked.
- Whole grain bread of all shapes, sizes and flavors.
- Pancakes with fruit like blueberries, strawberries or pumpkin.
Shape It Up
Offer your child a variety of shapes to choose from to spark their interest. Some kids like their sandwiches cut in half, some like them whole and some like them cut diagonally. Try using fun shaped cookie cutters to create interesting shapes. Dinosaur or star-shaped foods are much more fun. Slice vegetables in the shape of fries when you can. In fact, most kids prefer the easily held shape of spears.
Let Your Picky Child Play with Their Food
Don’t make a huge deal about making your picky child eat their food. Ask them to try a bite, maybe have a few minutes of sit-down mealtime, but let them play. Let them play with their food too. If your child wants to stack their cheese cubes before sneaking a bite, let them do it.
So, let your child pretend their broccoli is a tree before tasting it. They are only children for so long, and this period of fussiness and picky eating will pass. If you can make mealtimes positive, your picky child will respond.
Some Final Thoughts on Picky Eaters
Keep offering a variety of foods. Even if your child has turned down a food in the past, they will eventually become curious and try certain things. Don’t get discouraged, be consistent. And when your child is old enough, let them help you prepare meals. Your picky child will want to eat what they helped make.