These 5 Things Can Help Conquer Picky Eating!
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There are so many opinions out there about how to avoid having a picky eater.
Honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it really is just up to the child’s personality. I have two kids and we’ve done everything the same with them as far as introducing food goes.
We’ve also had the same expectations and rules.
Despite all that, I have one child that snacks and picks at food, and another that will eat just about anything you put in front of her.
So, while personality does play a huge part, there are ways to help move past it and to set up healthy eating habits for your child.
For us, these are the things that truly helped us to conquer picky eating.
1) Limit Snacks
To the average person this sounds like something easy to do, but in reality, it can be difficult.
If you’re a stay-at-home mama you’ll likely be familiar with the witching hour (Read my tips for making it through the chaos –> HERE). Giving your toddler snacks during that time is immensely tempting because it helps everyone get through it.
Toddlers can also be super persistent. Like, if they could use that persistence and determination later on in life, it would get them really far! However, as a parent, it can be truly wearing to be asked for a snack over and over again.
Something that helped in our home was having designated meal/snack times.
I made a chart that had clocks on it which showed the times at which we ate. i.e breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.
My son can’t read at age 3, so I gave each meal a different colour font so he could tell them apart.
Every time he would ask me for something to eat, I would send him to the chart to take a look at what the time for the next meal was. He would then go to our clock on the wall and see if they looked the same.
The chart was actually really helpful for several reasons. One, I wasn’t the one saying ‘no’ constantly. Instead, the chart did that for me. Two, my son was learning how to tell the time. And three, he was also learning his colours.
The best part of all was that he stopped constantly asking for food. It wasn’t an immediate fix, but after several days of consistent use, he worked it out.
So, aside from morning and afternoon tea, we don’t give snacks. Even the ones that I do allow are small enough that they won’t fill my kids up too much.
I’m not saying don’t give snacks at all, but if dinner is a fight, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and limit them in case your child isn’t hungry enough.
2) Eat Together
Children learn by example, be that good or bad. It is so vitally important that our children see us emulating healthy eating habits.
This is best done by having at least one meal together a day. For many families, dinner time is the best bet that everyone’s schedules will allow them to be together. However, with different work and sleep schedules that isn’t always the case.
Just figure out a time that works for you and your family.
Let your child eat together with you as a family from a young age so they can see what healthy eating habits really are.
3) Offer and Offer Again
It is said that it takes something like 10 times of trying a food before a child truly develops a like or dislike to it. I can testify to this being true with my own children.
My son Jack wouldn’t touch bananas for the first two years of his life, and then all of a sudden one day he decided that he liked them. He now has one every morning with his breakfast.
Don’t give up!
Offer and offer again, and again, and again, and again…
We don’t force our children to finish everything on the plate, but they must TRY everything. I know that this isn’t a battle every parent feels is worth fighting, but to us it is.
The first reason is the fact that I took the time to prepare and cook the meal for them. I want my children to learn gratefulness and respect. Refusing to even try a meal that someone has prepared for you is rude. Plain and simple.
So, we require our children to at least give it a good.
And the second reason is possibly quite obvious. How are they going to know if they like or dislike something if they haven’t even given it a taste?
4) Cook The Same For Everyone
Don’t become a short order cook.
Toddlers are smart, really smart.
If you start cooking them a different meal when they reject what they’re given, they’re gonna start demanding that every meal time. Start as you mean to go on here and don’t give in!
You can certainly be kind and respectful to them in this area though. Try to include at least one thing that you know they enjoy every meal.
5) Set Ground Rules & Wait
This is so important.
None of the rest of the tips matter if you don’t set this one up.
You as the parent need to set your ground rules, whatever they are, and stick to them (See –> THIS POST for how to achieve balance with toddler discipline).
In our household our rules look like this:
- You Get What You’re Given
- You Don’t HAVE To Eat It All But You Must Try It
- You’re Not Getting Anything Else
- You Must Wait At The Table Until Everyone Is Finished Eating
Something that I’ve learnt along the way is that children can also be hungrier at certain times of the day. For instance, my eldest eats a full and hearty breakfast. He will easily eat a piece of fruit, one or two slices of toast, and a full bowl of porridge.
However, he eats barely anything at dinner time. He just isn’t hungry.
Once I understood that about him, I was much less stressed about getting him to eat at dinner time. So long as he tried the meal, if he wasn’t hungry, I let it go.
And then to add to then to cap all those points off I’m gonna say that sometimes it just means waiting. Waiting for your child to pass through a phase.
Remain consistent, and trust that you’ll get there in the end. I promise it really does get better!