What to do with a picky eater? This is a question I get a lot. Many that work with children, have that one child that just about refuses to eat anything besides hot dogs and mac and cheese. Is this because you only fed them fast food and kid food from the time they were little. Probably not, I tell those who say “well they are going to eat or they will starve at my house.” Again, probably not. I, have had two picky eaters. I have suffered through years of helpful people telling me: “it’s your fault you should make them eat or your too easy on them.” For many, many years, I took my food when we went to other people’s homes or out to eat to avoid embarrassment and a scene. I just want to give parents who are in this situation a bit of hope. I told those helpful people; that my children’s taste buds would develop and grow as they do. I chose not to fight over dinner, this is one area besides learning to go to the bathroom on their own, that if you decide to make it a battle they will win. Now, I have children who are open to more foods than I am. But, until that time I have some helpful tips for the frustrated parent and a pair ear plugs so you don’t have to listen to those helpful people. Here are a few things NOT to do with a picky eater.
• Don’t force your child to eat. Let him eat whatever he wants and how much he wants. Don’t force him to eat more. It is always helpful to have a healthy alternative that you know they will eat.
• Don’t withhold treats and snacks. It’s best sometimes to just move on to the next meal.
• Avoid punishment at mealtime. Don’t punish your child for not eating well or if he refuses to take a bite of new food. Remember it takes 5 -7 times or more for a child to acquire a taste for new foods.
• Don’t offer desert as a bribe or a reward for desired behaviors. For example don’t say, “If you will finish off all the food in the plate you will get an ice-cream”.
• Don’t offer him drinks just before the meals. Also limit the intake of high calorie drinks. Such drinks can fill their stomach and affect their meals.
• Avoid commenting on the child’s eating while at the table. Instead make mealtime a pleasant experience by discussing nice and positive topics.
• Don’t allow your child to eat alone. Let the family eat the meal together.
• Don’t loose your temper if your child refuses to eat food. Be patient and keep on trying.
These are just a few idea that have help me through the years. But, knowing some of the reasons why a child might be a picky eater has made it even easier. There are several reasons why children become picky eaters. Some children are sensitive to tastes, smell and texture from birth itself. Some children find it difficult to chew the food and so they become picky eaters. Some don’t like the color of the food and others don’t like the taste.
I survived the picky years, and yes I have more than once made three different meals at dinner, and made sure that I had healthy alternatives they would eat because they snacked all day. But, I now have a child that eats sushi. I would never have figured that.
This is a post that I did over a year ago, a little tweaking and updating and it still applies today.