Is your child a picky eater? Are you tired of running after your kid with a plate of food in your hand? You will be relieved to know that you are not alone in this. It is everyday struggle of almost all the parents whose kids fuss on the served meal. Parenting comes with its own challenges. But don’t stress yourself on your child’s less eating; it is a part of their growth. You don’t need to be worried if the child is active, cheerful and having sound sleep.
Common habits of picky eater kids
Often we presume the tantrums of children as picky eating. So, lets be clear about the behavior of picky eaters.
The picky eater kids generally choose a couple of food items as their favorite ones. Therefore, they start refusing the other foods. It is usually for a short period of time as they soon get bored and want to try something new.
Preference based on colors
Kids don’t have any solid reason for rejecting some eatable. Sometimes they start disliking some random color and hence avoid the vegetable or fruit of that particular color. Some children are attracted towards bright colors while some avoid them.
Hating the texture
Texture plays an important role in the kids’ food items. Some children are very choosy for the textures. For instance, they might not like the seedy fruit or avoid anything squishy. Its just their choice and they take their time to get comfortable for the variety of textures.
Picky eaters would start getting distracted during meal time and will be interested in doing anything but eating. Wasting the food served on the table or just avoiding it to pass meal time is the common example of picky eater kids.
Sometimes they are comfortable in whatever they are eating in routine and reluctant to try anything new. So they stick to their old food. This choice is irrespective of the color, taste or texture.
Tips for picky eater kids
Here are some tips that might help you to get through the stage easily. These experiments can be useful for you and your kid.
Creativity is the key
It you know that the actual reason of your child’s refusal is the appearance of the food, then you have to be creative and make the meal look interesting. Remember whenever you want your child to try something for the first time, make it appealing to them. Kids cannot refuse pasta and pizza. So you can add chopped vegetables in it taking advantage of their choices
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You can also add some spinach to your child’s favorite sandwich. It will solve your purpose of adding green vegetable to their meal and they will enjoy their favorite dish.
Cutting fruits in their favorite shapes for making it more presentable would be a nice idea.
Set an example for them
Parents are the role models for the kids. If healthy eating is a norm at your home, then your kid will automatically adapt it. Make sure that you yourself have healthy eating habits. Eat good food in front of your kid and try different things. The child will observe you eating and would definitely go for that dish.
We all know that kids are good at observing things. If they notice us enjoying the meal time, eating and trying anything new would not be a herculean task for them. Setting a routine is also a trick. Scheduling the meals and offering them to the kids daily as per the set time table can make them perceive the habit of eating.
Quantity can make a difference
A kid should consume a quantity just enough to get the required nutrition. This is the motive of all the parents. But while giving them a good nutritional value we overwhelm them so much that they start refusing the food.
In the beginning, let them taste the dish. When they develop the taste and start liking it, increase the quantity gradually. The best time to practice it is before the favorite meal. They would try anything in the excitement of their preferable food.
Dessert is not a reward
Parents often make a mistake by rewarding the kids with a dessert if they finish the meal. It develops a mindset that dessert is something tasty and fun than the actual meal. Consequently, kids get more attracted to the sweets and sugary items.
Giving a dessert is not an incorrect idea but the way it is given can be inaccurate. Dessert is not restricted, have two or three nights as dessert nights and watch the quantity. You can also call fruit as dessert if required.
Try to keep the reward as non-food items. Praising them in family is the best motivation. Otherwise playing some game or let them choose the game after dinner can be a reward. It will make them finish the supper on time.
Figure out the allergies
While most of the kids are picky eaters, few of them might be allergic to some food item. The allergies have reactions on the skin like itching, rashes, redness, or swelling. These are clearly visible but the intolerance has no such symptom. It is quite difficult to find out.
Talking to the kid about any kind of problem to the stomach ache, bloating or nausea can help you rule out their reason of avoiding something in particular. If the child is complaining about it repeatedly, then take them seriously. Not all kids make lame excuses to avoid eating.
Diet as per Appetite
Every kid is different just like their appetite. Don’t always stuff the kid for your mind’s satisfaction. If kid is refusing to eat more, then stop there. Do not try the method of diverted eating or forceful stuffing. The child will be able to digest only according to his digestive system.
Make the task easy by talking to the child or asking them about how they are feeling. Like “is the tummy full or not?” or asking them if they like certain taste or not. It will give the child the sense of eating and understanding what they are eating.
Don’t forget your role
Kids most of the time instigate the parents and get their wish fulfilled. But the parents have to be in charge and dominate at some point than being a short time cook. The kids if served their favorite dish on demand would never develop the habit of eating what the whole family is eating. That’s why it is important that the child eats what everyone is eating at the dinner table. Even if they refuse to eat make them sit on the table with the family during meal time. They will get into the habit of having a specific meal time.
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Parents are always recommended to make whole family eat together and talk to the kid about their favorite things or textures in the meantime.
Involvement in groceries
According to the studies, the kids who are more involved in the meal planning or cooking are more likely to make healthy eating a habit. While grocery shopping take the child along and let them make their preferences. Buy their favorite healthy foods.
You can also involve them in cooking and give them some age-appropriate tasks. They would be excited to eat what you have made.
Patience is vital ingredient
It is obvious that one can easily get frustrated while dealing with picky eater kids but patience is must. Parents should understand that forcing the kid to eat would only result in more and more pickiness. Kids often run from the things they are forced to do. If you run after them with the bowl of dish, they simply run faster. So focus on the technique than the stuffing. Sooner or later, kids will pass this stage and get into the habit of eating properly.
Distractions like phone, television or any other gadget would affect the eating habit of kid. Make the child seated on the table or a high booster chair and serve them. It will make them differentiate between the playing and eating time.
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If you are stuffing them while they are engrossed in their game or cartoon, it would be of no use. Kid would not be familiar with the texture of the food. They need to know what they are eating and what is good for them.
The meal time should be pressure free for the kid. You don’t have to be strict and pressurize them for finishing the plate or eating whatever is there. Kids can easily sense when the environment is tensed. As a resultant, they will become more reluctant and fussy about eating. Let meal time be fun time.
Try these tips If you are a parent of picky eater kid and always have positive approach with a calm mind. Don’t compare your child with someone else’s. You know better about your kid.