Picky Eaters

Sitting down to eat a meal can become something you dread as a parent if you have a picky toddler to feed. Perhaps it feels like your child is in a food rut and only wants that one food and nothing else. Or maybe it doesn’t matter what you try, they just won’t eat. It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are two parts to creating fun at the dining room table.

First, as challenging as it may be, it might be your attitude that could use some tweaking. Toddlers are exploring everything at this stage, especially food. If you approach meal time as an adventure of sight, smell, touch and taste then you have already won half the battle. Come to the table armed with the abilities to laugh and play, because if you are tense your child will be too and will not be as willing to try new things.

Singing is also a way to take their mind off of the food and onto you instead. It doesn’t matter if you would never make it onto American Idol; your child loves to hear your voice. Use finger play and even full body movements to go along with the songs. Before you know it, they will be moving in their booster seats right with you.

Second is presentation. A sandwich on white bread is boring to look at and after the initial touch, there isn’t much else to explore. Instead, create “This ‘N That” plates for them. Cut up a variety of fruits, meats and vegetables in small amounts and just place them in small piles around their plates. Include some whole grain crackers for crunchiness and even use some dips like ketchup or your favorite salad dressing. Children love to dunk and have fun with food.

There will be times that you will have to think outside the box to get your children to try something new. Perhaps your son is really big on meat, bread, milk and not much else. Grab that blender and start whipping up some real fruit smoothies and other concoctions. The boy that would never eat a banana just might love a banana and strawberry shake. If your daughter is great about fruits and veggies, but could care less about meat, you could start looking into some vegetarian cookbooks to see what other protein options are out there.

It is said that it can take introducing a new food up to 20 separate times to a child before they will eat it, so don’t give up on providing a healthy, well-rounded diet for your young ones. If your meals are stressful, it could cause food issues later in life. Feeding children shouldn’t be overwhelming. Just take a step back, see if you can start approaching meals differently and don’t limit your creativity when it comes to presentation.

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