Has your child refused to eat anything other than peanut butter sandwiches for the last few days? Or perhaps your child would rather play than eat at all? Many parents worry about what their child eats and does not eat. Most children get plenty of variety and nutrition in their diets over a week, and until your child’s food preferences mature along with them, consider these helpful tips for preventing mealtime battles.
Respect your child’s appetite Your child may tend to eat only when he or she is hungry. If your child is not hungry, do not force them to eat a meal or snack. Do not bribe them or force them to eat all the food on their plate as this may only make the power struggle worse.
Stick to a routine Serve meals and snacks at about the same time every day. Do not give your child a drink or snack for at least an hour before their meals. The concept is that if your child comes to the table hungry, they may be more likely to eat the meal.
Be patient with new to them foods Young children often will touch or smell their food. They may put them in their mouth only to spit them out. If it is a new food they may need a few times of having this served to them before they will consider eating it. Do not tell them that they should eat it because it tastes good, tell them something fun about that food, pique their curiosity.
Make it fun if possible shape the food, sever vegetables with a sauce or dip.
Recruit your child When you are at the grocery store ask your child to help you select fruit, vegetables, and other healthy food. Get them to help you with the preparing of the foods, they can wash the fruit or vegetables, or stir things up, this gives you a free hand to do something else and gets them a little bit interested in what is being served.
Set a good example if you eat healthy food, your child is more than likely to copy you. Children learn by example.
Be sneaky add broccoli or peppers to spaghetti sauce, add fruit to your child’s cereal, or mix grated carrots or zucchini to soups or casseroles, these items cook down with nosing of that food to be found by the child.
Minimize distractions Turn off the television during meals, and do not allow your child to bring his favorite toy to the table.
Do not offer a reward of dessert if your child thinks that dessert is the best food they are less inclined to eat the food on their plate. You will only get more frustrated and your child will only become more upset. If you do serve dessert try cutting down on the number of days dessert is served, and switch it to a fruit or yogurt dish.
Do not become a short-order cook preparing a separate meal for your child because they refuse to eat what was cooked for the meal may further encourage your child’s picky eating habits. Keep serving your child healthy foods until they become familiar and then prefer to eat those foods.