If you’re having a hard time getting your child to try new foods, know that you’re not alone. In fact, up to 50% of parents consider their preschoolers to be picky eaters. Picky eaters respond to a limited variety of foods, turn down nutritional foods like vegetables, and sometimes refuse to eat at all. This can make mealtimes stressful and cause parents to worry about their child’s health and nutritional well-being.
Here are some helpful tips that may help make mealtimes more pleasant for you and your child!
1. Set a good example for your child
As a parent, you play an important role in shaping your child’s eating habits. Make healthy food choices in your own meals to serve as a role model for your child.
For instance, consider increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables in front of your child during mealtimes. This allows your child to observe healthy eating habits and encourages them to do the same.
2. Be patient with new foods
If your child refuses to eat a new food, don’t give up at the first attempt. Children may need as many as 15 exposures to a new food before accepting it.
Serve new foods along with your child’s favourite foods, and continue to provide healthy options until they become familiar and preferred.
3. Involve your child in meal preparation
Try involving your child in meal preparation to encourage their interest in healthy meals. You could bring your child along for grocery shopping and allow them to select a few healthy options that they would like to try — this also gives your child a learning opportunity where you can educate him more about the various foods at the supermarket.
You may even engage your child’s assistance in the kitchen. Allow your child to help you with safe tasks such as washing vegetables and arranging foods on plates.
4. Make foods more appealing to your child
Children may have specific preferences for the taste, texture and presentation of their meals. Be creative and fun when presenting meals to your child so it appears appetizing to them!
To make food more appealing, try serving different coloured fruits and vegetables together. In fact, the most vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables are the richest in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. You might also want to try flavouring them with seasoning, sauces, or dips (e.g. mayonnaise, cream cheese) to make them more palatable.
5. Reward your child the right way
Avoid using sweets, desserts, or unhealthy snacks as a reward as it may increase their desire for these unhealthy foods.
Encourage your child to eat healthy foods by providing non-food related rewards. Consider using verbal praises, stickers, or extra play time as an alternative to promote food acceptance.
We hope that these tips will be useful to you and your child during future mealtimes! In the meantime, do keep in mind that picky eating is a normal developmental stage for children. Make every effort to patiently guide them along the path of healthy eating.
If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits, you may teleconsult a Paediatrician on the WhiteCoat app. Click here for more information on our Paediatrics service, or click here to go back to the blog.