Picky eaters are very common, especially if they are toddlers or young children. Many toddlers want the same foods such as pizza and hot dogs, everyday for a week. If your child falls into this category and is a healthy child, rest assured the food jags will run their course and they will soon be eating broccoli and carrots.
As long as this is something that ends in a few weeks (then they move onto 2 different foods they will eat), it’s ok. In the meantime, make sure they are getting a good quality multivitamin and encourage them to drink milk as they are getting through it.
Here are some other strategies to gently encourage your child to eat a wide variety of healthy foods:
DO Avoid grazing or constant snacking.
DO Space meals and snacks 3 to 4 hours apart to give your child time to get hungry.
DO Serve basic, natural foods that are flavorful and colorful.
DO Allow her to listen to her body and stop eating once satisfied. This encourages a good relationship with food that will last a lifetime.
DO Only offer 1 new food at a time. Don’t overwhelm her. Remember that children need to be introduced to new foods 15 to 20 times before deciding if they like the food or not. So be persistent. Don’t give up and keep offering new foods!
DO Relax. She’ll get over it. Chances are good she won’t be eating chicken nuggets at college graduation or her wedding.
DO Be prepared! She will object to a new food on her plate. Keep doing it. Eventually she’ll get over it.
DO NOT Force your child to be a member of the “clean plate club”.
DO NOT Make a big deal if she doesn’t eat it, and don’t make a big deal of eating it yourself, however do realize you are a great influence on her, so if you eat Brussels sprouts on a regular basis your child is more likely to be open to trying them.
DO NOT Create a power struggle. Encourage new foods but do not bribe her or yell over her refusal of a certain food.
Your toddler is much more likely to pick up a crunchy fresh carrot than a mushy, boiled one. Although you shouldn’t force her to clean her plate, do be sure to serve different types of food and keep it on her plate.
That said, if your toddler really does not like a few foods, respect her preferences. You don’t like everything; you can’t expect her to either
The best time to introduce a new food is when your picky eater is very hungry. She will be more receptive to trying new foods when hungry versus already satisfied on preferred foods.
Please note these guidelines are for picky eaters, not those with feeding aversion. If you are unsure which eating problem your child has, speak to your doctor about the severity of preferences and he can help you figure it out.