Is there a picky eater at your dinner table? If so, you are not alone in fighting these mealtime battles. Several studies show that one out of every five preschoolers is considered a picky eater, which is the reason why many parents worry if their child is getting the adequate nutrition he or she needs for healthy growth and development.
Most children go through this phase of being a picky eater because experiencing foods of different texture, color and tastes can be frightening. Young children are used to consistency and familiarity, so it can be challenging when introducing nutritious foods to finicky eaters. That is why it is important for parents to educate their children on the rights and wrongs of healthy eating and having a balanced diet.
Consider these tips to help tame your picky eater:
Take some time to plan weekly menus. Putting a little thought and planning into mealtimes generally yields big health advantages. It also gives you and your family an opportunity to try new recipes and be adventurous! Be sure to include healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget to involve children in planning, shopping and preparing meals. Use these activities to understand children’s food preferences. At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.
Make it fun. Cut foods into various shapes, try veggies and fruits with various dipping sauces and be creative.
Lead by example. Showing an example of proper eating habits is important. Instead of commenting on foods being bad or good, you need to show your child good eating habits by example.
Be patient with new foods. When introducing a new food to your child, you may need to expose the new food up to 10 times before they accept it. So be patient, changes are easier for children to handle if they are made slowly.
Stick to the routine. Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. If your child comes to the table hungry, they are more motivated to eat.
Respect your child’s appetite. Young children tend to eat only when they’re hungry. If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack.
Don’t forget. Remember to praise children when they do make healthy choices.
If you are concerned that picky eating is jeopardizing your child’s growth, consult your child’s pediatrician. In the meantime, remember that your child’s eating habits will not change overnight. Taking one step at a time can lead to a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Set the tone in your household by making healthy eating a rule as well as a practice!
Samantha Gluck is a freelance writer specializing in various topics including pediatric healthcare, OB/GYN healthcare, business and much more.
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