Especially as children move into toddler and pre-school stages, it isn’t uncommon for their eating habits to change … not always for the better. If your child is becoming a picky eater, here are some reasons why, and some ways to meet this challenge.
Sometimes children aren’t hungry. Consider reducing portion sizes or serving kids one meal item at a time. This can be an especially effective approach when introducing new menu items.
Sometimes children aren’t adventurous. Like all of us, kids like food and other things that are tried and true. When you’re introducing new foods to a child, start with small portions and realize it may take a few times before they get used to the new taste they’re experiencing. This can also be true of new shapes, textures and colors of food that children may be encountering for the first time.
Sometimes children just don’t like the taste. We all have some foods we’re less thrilled about. Kids, whose tastes sensations are more vivid than adults, are no different. Often their opinions can be more vivid too. If you are trying to get your child to eat veggies they don’t like, consider incorporating a seasoning or sauce to make the taste more palatable.
Sometimes children don’t like to be surprised. If you’re in one of those households where dinner times change and people are coming and going, don’t be surprised if your child isn’t an ideal eater. Try to keep to a routine as much as possible. Predictability makes it easier for kids. Eating at the same time of day also makes it likely that they’ll be hungry when you’re ready to serve their meal.
Sometimes children like to test their parents. As young children grow, they begin to realize a sense of independence and awareness. Don’t fall in to the trap of giving in to kids when they refuse to eat a particular item. Develop a rule and stick to it, such as needing to eat a certain number of bites of each menu item in order to get dessert, or staying at the dinner table until the meal is finished, whether they eat or not.
Over time, with an emphasis on calm and consistency, you should be able to see steady progress in your child’s eating habits. If this is not the case, please schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to see if other factors are at work. Depending on your circumstances, you might consider pediatric feeding therapy, as provided by practices such as Theraplay, here in Sanford. We’ll discuss more about feeding therapy next week.