If your child is a picky eater, then you are probably all-too familiar with the daily struggles of mealtimes. Most foods have nutritional benefits, so it’s not unusual that your picky eater may be missing out on essential nutrients for healthy energy levels and body functions. Moreover, a balanced diet is essential to the overall development of a child.
Read on for our top tips on how to support your picky eater to experience new foods and flavours
1) Practise patience and respect your child’s appetite: Forcing a picky eater to eat a whole plate of food they don’t enjoy could lead to distress and reluctance to try new foods. Ask them to taste a bit and allow them to eat only as much as they want.
2) Try the mix and match method: Present both familiar and unfamiliar foods at mealtimes but be mindful of the portion size. A large portion of unfamiliar food (before it becomes familiar) may cause upset. Rather, let your child enjoy familiar foods while they sample the unfamiliar ones. Another way you can make unfamiliar foods familiar, is to display the new food on the dining table before you introduce it to your child’s plate.
3) Offer choices: While introducing an unfamiliar food to your picky eater provide them with choices. This shows them that you respect their opinion, and it empowers them to act decisively. It reduces the overall likelihood of the child rejecting the food that they have chosen.
4) Be a role model for your child: Children, like all people, learn from their surroundings. They also tend to mimic others! You can take advantage of this by role modelling the way you try new foods during mealtimes. For older preschool children, you might discuss the benefits of eating certain foods. For example: “Did you know milk has calcium C which helps our bones grow stronger.”
5) Involve them in the kitchen: Children love helping out no matter how big or small the task. By inviting children to assist in food preparation, picky eaters can engage their Practical Life skills and expand their knowledge of different ingredients and flavours. It can also boost their curiosity to try new foods!