Children’s nutrition shouldn’t be a daunting task for parents. Nor does it need to be frustrating. Well, you are not the only one to complain about your child being fussy or choosy with eating habits. Majority of parents are usually worried about their children’s eating habits, including what they eat and what they don’t eat. However, most of the kids usually get the nutrition and variety in the diet over a week’s span.
Here are some good tips to make your choosy and fussy child eat, until his/her food preferences mature. These tips can help you avoid mealtime battles.
Have a Fixed Routine
Make it a point to serve snacks and meals almost at the same time every day. You can offer 100% juice or milk along with food, but provide water between snacks and meal. Making your child fill up on milk, juice, or snacks through the day would only end up in reduced appetite for meals.
Make it Fun
This is an amazing idea to make your choosy kid eat healthy options. Make it fun for them by putting in new ideas to serve food. For example, serve broccoli or any other vegetable with the child’s favorite sauce or dip. Another fun idea is to cut the food into different shapes using cookie cutters. Yet another idea is to serve breakfast foods for dinner to add variety. Cook a variety of food with bright colors as young children are usually attracted to different shapes and colors. Kids also love to play with their food. Playing with shapes and colors of the food makes an important aspect of food acceptance as it increases the attractiveness and appeal of the food. One good choice is to go for finger foods.
Take your Child’s Help
This is another good idea to make your child participate in grocery shopping. Let him select vegetables, fruits, and other healthy grocery items. However, avoid buying things you don’t want your child to eat. You can also make your child engaged by encouraging him/her to rinse the veggies, set the table, and stir the batter.
Be patient when introducing new foods
It is extremely important to be patient when introducing new foods to your child. Usually, kids try to touch and smell new foods. Moreover, they might even put small bites into the mouth and take them out again and again. Actually, your child requires repeated exposure to any new food before taking the first bite.
To make it easier to introduce a new food to your child, prepare a base by talking about the shape, color, texture, and aroma of the food to be introduced. Also inform your child about its nutritional benefits. To make the process even easier, combine the food with your child’s favorite food.
Also make it a point to introduce one new food at a time. Allow time for your child to get familiar with the new introduced food before you make him to move on to something else. Also, keep trying. Do not give up only after the first attempt. Surprisingly, it can take as much as ten attempts to make your child accept the newly introduced food. Keep offering a small amount at regular intervals. Eventually, your child will get used to the texture and flavor of the food.
Respect the child’s appetite
It is never a wise idea to force your child to have his meal or snack when he/she is not hungry. Similarly, it is also not right to force or bribe your child to eat particular food items or clean the plate. This would only end up reinforcing a power struggle over food. Adding further, you might notice your child to associate mealtime with frustration and anxiety. The child might become less sensitive to hunger and cues of fullness.
Creativity is the key mantra to make your child eat even what he doesn’t like. Be creative with veggies and fruits. Or vegetables, you can prepare yummy and attractive sandwiches. As concerned to serving fruits, prepare tasty smoothies and shakes to make your picky child feel tempted to have them.
Set an Example
Your child follows your footsteps. If you want him to be a good eater and not be choosy about food, make it a point to set a good example for him by being a good eater yourself. Eat all the things in front of your child that you want him to eat.
Avoid Offering Desserts as Reward
Offering dessert as a reward to your child can make him feel that dessert is the best part of a meal. This would further increase your child’s desire to eat sweets. It is wise to choose a night or two per week as dessert nights and skip it in others. Another wise idea is to redefine yogurt, fruit, or other healthy options as dessert.
Cut Down Distractions
Make it a point to minimize distractions during mealtime. This can be done by turning off the electronic gadgets and television during mealtime. Doing this would make the child focus on eating. Also, the advertisements shown on television can make the child ask for sugary and foods that are less nutritious.
Avoid being a Short-order Cook
This is the most important step to change your child’s picky attitude towards food. It is never a good idea to be a short-order cook just to make your child eat. Preparing a separate meal for the child just because he/she doesn’t want to eat the already cooked food would only make encourage your child to demand something special every time he doesn’t like the original meal prepared thus making him more picky. Instead, make it a point to encourage him to stay at the table for the decided mealtime – irrespective of the fact if he is eating or not. Go ahead with serving your child the healthy choices until he gets familiar and makes them a preferred choice.
Besides all the above tips and suggestions, it is also important to control your emotions. If your child comes to know that you would eventually give up and serve them what they like when they refuse a food, they are surely to have the upper hand. This would lead the fussy eating habits to not only continue, but to turn stronger and your battle to feed your child would continue forever. So, be strong enough to hide your emotions and make your child eat what you want with these simple tips.