If your child is a picky eater, you know it’s no easy challenge to overcome. The excuses, the temper tantrums, the disgust on their faces; it can all feel neverending. If figuring out how to deal with picky eaters sounds like a problem you’re facing and you’re looking for tips and tricks to help your child start trying new things – you’re in the right place! Here are our top five tips when it comes to how to deal with picky eaters:
Pair a Familiar Food With a New One
Introduction to new foods with new smells, shapes, and textures can be intimidating for young ones. Try pairing some of your kiddos’ favorite food they know, or love, with a portion of new food.
If you know your child loves mac n’ cheese, and you’re slowly introducing a new grain like couscous or quinoa, try putting both on their plate. Your kiddo’s curiosity will kick in and they’ll begin trying and tasting new things – all while thinking it’s their idea.
Make Food Fun
There are so many different ways to make food fun and exciting. Try organizing your kiddo’s plate by color and make a rainbow out of food, or pick a color and make every food on their plate match that color.
Pick one of your child’s favorite movies or TV shows and prepare a “themed” meal together while watching. There are also plenty of children’s cookbooks and recipes to let them look up fun ideas to make together with ingredients you’ll love and edible art they’ll be excited to try.
Practice Flexible Thinking
Try to teach your kiddos to try something once before giving up on it. Teaching your kids how this can help make their brains and muscles bigger and stronger is a great way to get them excited about expanding their minds and palate.
A big part of encouraging flexible thinking is understanding and accepting when your child doesn’t like something. If they try something once and decide they don’t like it, be sure not to pressure or force them to eat something they don’t want to. Allow them to have certain foods they like and don’t like, as this will help encourage them to be honest and try new things more often.
Lead By Example
If you are a dramatic and picky eater yourself, it’s only going to encourage your little ones to follow by example. Allowing yourself and your kids to have foods you like and don’t like is important, but trying new things together as a family is just as huge.
For example, just because you may not like tacos doesn’t mean you can’t allow your family to enjoy taco nights. This is a perfect way to let your kiddos know that just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to try something new or similar.
Make yourself a taco salad, a burrito, or something that’s “new” to you and them. This will help encourage your kids to not be afraid of trying new things, or similar things, to foods they may not enjoy.
Try And Try Again
Children tend to be quick to judge when trying new foods. If there’s a color, a texture, or a smell they don’t like – they will generally give up and spit it out. It’s important to remember to not give up when this happens! Slowly introduce the specific foods in different ways. If your kiddo didn’t like their side of green beans, try sprinkling them into a casserole instead. Explain the benefits of all the vegetables, fruits, grains, and even sweets as your kiddo tries new things to help keep them excited as well.
Remember, helping your child become less of a picky eater is a marathon – not a sprint and if you’re struggling there are other tips you can try. Move slowly, have patience, and remember to be understanding as they grow and their palate expands. Keep food fun, full of variety, and interesting, and remember – not even adults love everything.