One of the most common struggles parents have is dealing with picky eaters. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
- Your toddler takes a few bites of food and announces he’s “done”
- You can stock your fridge and shelves full but your little one will only eat the same 5 things over and over.
- Your child asks for one thing, you make it, then she asks for something else then decides she wants something completely different altogether.
- Coaxing your children to just take “one more bite” is a constant battle in your home
First things first – meal times are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable so you want to avoid these battles every time you sit down at the table. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 typically have smaller appetites, so if they only eat a little at a time, that’s ok. However, also realize that their appetites can change on a daily basis and even from meal to meal. If they like carrots, don’t be afraid to throw some in at breakfast. Do they prefer eggs? Who says you can’t have eggs for dinner?
Dinner time is typically going to be the meal that your child feels like eating the least. It’s the end of the day and they are tired and unless they have been doing a physical activity like swimming or playing outside or at daycare, chances are they aren’t going to be as hungry as they are at other times of the day.
If you are dealing with older children who are picky eaters, you may be able to reason more with them and enforce the “one bite rule” – meaning they have to take at least one bite of every food on their plate and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it again.
Here are just a few ideas for dealing with picky eaters:
- Don’t nag or coax smaller children. Pick and choose your battles – plain and simply put, your child WILL eat when he is hungry.
- Have realistic portions: Many parents set unrealistic goals for their children when it comes to mealtime. A good rule of thumb to follow: If your child is under the age of 5-6, use a tablespoon per year of age. If they ask for more when they’ve finished that then you can always give more.
- Keep trying to introduce new foods – even if they haven’t liked them before. Tastes change and you never know when you find something new they like.
- Avoid too much milk, juice and soda in place of food. Many kids will fill up on sugary drinks and have no room for food.
- Remember, pick your battles and don’t make meal time miserable for everyone!