Some kids are eating machines, others you can barely get to eat anything. I know a boy who practically grew up eating nothing but bread, cheese and macaroni and cheese while his brother would eat about anything you threw his way! Each and every kid is different, but picky eaters are a mom's worst meal-time nightmare. While it's much less stressing to cater to your picky child's menu, try these 8 tips on dealing with a picky eater to try and introduce your child to new foods!
1. Be Fun!
Who says celery has to look like green stalks of "yuckiness?" Instead of serving it all plain, cut them in small sections and fill the center with peanut butter. You can also add a few raisins and tell them they're "ants on a log." Don't make mealtime boring. Act like you're a fish waiting to snag your meal by moving your fork in front of your face and then quickly eating it. When they see you having so much fun eating your dinner, they're sure to want to try as well. Pretty soon, you'll have a full fish and an empty plate!
2. Be Creative
Just as I mentioned with the "ants on a log" there are many ways to get creative with a child's food. Denny's and IHOP has already paved the way for fun breakfasts with smiley face pancake plates and such, but there are many other ideas too. One great source of great food ideas is Family Fun magazine. They even include meals that your kids can help cook. (More on that later.) One great way to get your kids to eat veggies is to set up a treasure map or maze plate with celery, carrots and other fun veggies with a small prize or treasure as they eat their way through the maze.
3. Be an Example
You can't expect your kids to want to eat healthy when you, yourself, don't want to eat healthy. It's good that we want our kids to lead healthy lives, but first, we must get our own life healthy. It's the same as if we were to fuss at our kids for being lazy while we sit on our hiney all day. We must start by example and show our kids that we love the same food we expect them to eat. You could try the whole "I'll eat one, you eat one" tactic and eat the same things along with them. Whatever you do, let them see you living a healthy lifestyle and eating right.
4. Be Minimal
Don't throw a huge pile of greens on a kid's plate and expect them to clean their plate if they think greens look nasty. Just give them a tablespoon full. My dad had a rule around our house that seemed "cruel" to some people, but now, at 23, I can see he was very wise in what he done. Sweets were a "take it or leave it" food, but main meal contents weren't. We were required to eat at least a tablespoon of everything served, even the things we didn't like. A tablespoon is equivalent to a good bite full. At the time, I hated it, but, because of constantly eating things I didn't care for, I developed a taste for them, and now greens and sweet potatoes is something I eat on my own, without the rule applying. One website I read did say that it can take up to about 10 tries for a child to develop a taste for something, but it is possible.
5. Be Kind
Don't be overly forceful on a child about a food that they honestly don't like. It's one thing to make them try it one time, or even, as I said in the previous point, making them eat a little every time you have it, and it's another thing to constantly serve something and force the eating of a dish you know your child dislikes. Try to avoid over-serving things they lack a taste for, and focus on the things they do like and the new possibilities.
6. Be Involving
A child is more apt to want to eat a dish that they have helped to cook. Find meals that are easy to prepare and have lots of steps that aren't dangerous so that your kids can take part in the cooking process. You can even let them set up a restaurant and take orders from the members around the table, and allow them to help fix their own plate. By doing this, you engage the child on all counts of the food process, making the eating more rewarding.
7. Be Consistent
If you let your child slide without eating something new that they "think" is gross once, but expect them to eat it the next time, they're going to get confused. Make sure you stay consistent on always making them try new things. Once they realize that you're a woman of your word, they'll be more apt to just accept the challenge and take a bit, rather than giving you a big fit over the ordeal.
8. Be Rewarding
Reward your child for trying new foods and eating good. I don't recommend using sweets as the regular choice for reward, but every now and then, it's great. Other reward choices could be their choice of a movie rental, an activity or maybe a new toy if they conquer a tough food. Make eating good and healthy something they want to do. One day, they'll look back and thank you for it!
Eating good and healthy and trying new foods is very beneficial to a child's well being. No matter how picky they are, they must realize that they can't survive on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and potato chips their entire life. Using these 8 tops on dealing with a picky eater, you should be able to fight a tough battle and win! Good luck!
Top Photo Credit: Smitasrivastava02