Have you struggled with trying to feed a picky toddler? This is a problem that many parents face and can cycle throughout the toddler years. Here are some simple ways to make mealtime less stressful and to get your toddler trying some new foods today.
Do you know how to make your child feel empowered and excited to eat? Let them pick what they want! This does not mean you let them loose to rummage the cupboards or fridge this is guided choice. Pick ONLY two foods for them to choose from. Not three: two. Stick with two as any more and can be confusing and overwhelming. These should be two foods YOU want them to eat.
Do not pick something that you know that they desire. Select two newer or unfamiliar foods, this way they won’t stick with one they always crave. Hold up the two foods tell them to either point or ask (if they have words) to the one they want. Sometimes giving the child some power can make all the difference. However in this situation you are really the one in control!
Make your little one feel proud by giving them their own spoon, fork, or bowl. Put a little food in it and let them play while you sneak in bites. This is a great way to introduce them into using utensils which is a skill you will want them to learn.
Smoothies are a great way to get healthy nutrients in to your little one when they seem to want nothing you serve. Load up the smoothie with healthy ingredients like greens and avocado. Here is a recipe that is quick to make and full of healthy ingredients.
1/2 Cup Frozen Mangoes (Any frozen fruit will work!)
1 Cup Milk (Almond or Soy)
1/2 Avocado (or other healthy fats: flax or nutbutters)
1 Large Collard Green Leaf (not as a bitter as kale)
Throw in blender and pulse till smooth. This will leave you with one large smoothie. Keep it in a mason jar in the fridge so that you can give your child smaller portions when they want it. This also works as a wonderful nutritious snack.
OFFER NEW FOODS FIRST
Always offer the new food you would like your child to try first. If broccoli is on the menu tonight to try, give it to them first before any other foods. They are more likely to try it if they are hungry. If you let them fill up on familiar foods it will make them less likely to try the new one.
MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO
If your little one is anything like mine, he wants to do everything I am doing that includes what I eat. We need to set a good example and eat what we want them to eat. We can’t expect our little ones to eat green beans while we munch away at golden french fries. This means you eat and share the foods that you want him to eat.
LET THEM PLAY
Let your child play with their food: its OK! Let them explore it by squishing it between their fingers or smelling it. My son’s favorite thing to do is transfer spoonfuls of food (rice, avocado, noodles) back and forth from his tray to a bowl. Every now and then he will take a bite, all the while I sneak in spoonfuls. I know meal times can be stressful with a picky eater, try to relax and enjoy the time with your little one.
NEVER GIVE UP
Your little one may spit out those peas the first nine dinner times, but that tenth supper could be the tipping point to a new favorite. Just keep at it: try and try again. I experienced this with my own eating as well. When I met my husband he loved fish, I did not. He kept cooking it and, for the sake of our relationship, I kept eating it – and I actually grew to like it!
Now that you have some strategies on how to handle your picky eater you can sit down to breakfast, lunch or dinner with confidence! Bon appetite!