How to Handle Picky Eaters

It is incredibly common for young children to be picky eaters. They will enjoy a food one day and refuse to eat it the next, or eat large portions one day and then almost nothing. Children tend to only eat a few of the foods on the table, ignoring the rest. They will slowly warm up to new foods, and usually need to watch you eat, taste or touch a food a dozen times before liking it. By dividing responsibility for feeding, eventually even pickier eaters will start to become less skeptical when it comes to unfamiliar foods.

Why Is My Kid Always Picky Eating?

1. Need More Time to Adapt to New Food

It takes more time for children to get used to the tastes, colors and textures of new food. Despite wanting consistency in other areas of life, young children can be unpredictable with food, including familiar items.

Don’t be surprised if your child’s eating habits change daily or if he refuses to try something new before seeing it dozens of times. Some of these happen because children have different nutritional requirements as they don’t grow as quickly as they used to.

2. Want to Make Their Own Decision

Your children are also getting more independent and want to make decisions on their own. Although having picky eaters can be frustrating, you still need to introduce new foods to your children before they have got too obsessed with the few foods they like to start rejecting all new ones. Offer plenty of healthy foods frequently throughout the day, so they will have a chance to dig in before they are ready.

3. The Food Tastes Bad

Humans developed to dislike bitter foods and prefer sweeter ones. Children have more taste buds than adults and this amplifies the flavor of foods. Some kids are also genetically wired, so they have an increased sensitivity for bitter foods which could make the problem worse.

4. Just Not Hungry

After their first year, children simply aren’t as hungry as they used to be because their growth starts to level out. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if your child eats everything on his plate and very little the next day.

How to Handle Picky Eaters

  1. 1. Provide Proper Amount

    Children should get portions that are a quarter to a third the size of an adult portion. Children are more likely to become fussy or finicky if their parents expect them to eat large quantities. You can increase portions for preschoolers (and then kindergartners), but still keep them smaller than yours. 

2. Combine His Favorite Foods with New Foods

Serving favorite or familiar dishes at every meal ensures that your child will always eat at least something while at the table. Try combining a new food with a favorite dish. An example would be serving your child’s favorite macaroni and cheese with peas or another new vegetable.

3. Include Dessert During Dinner

Even if your child eats his dessert before dinner, it is okay. It may even help stimulate his appetiteso he’s more willing to eat the nutritious food on his plate. 

4. Don’t Overdo Snacks

Although the occasional snack is fine, don’t give your child too many of them. If he is hungry when it is time for dinner, he is likely to eat whatever you feed him. For example, putting down the salad before the meal, you may find that your child will eat a lot of it than you can imagine.

5. Talk About Food

Take the time to help your picky eaters understand about how food grows and is prepared. Children can better appreciate the effort involved in cooking and making food when they understand it was planted as a seed and then harvested. You can even plant a small garden together.

6. Take Advantage of Peer Pressure

Children tend to be much more willing to eat something when they see one of their peers eating it. If your kid has a friend over, for example, you will almost never see the friend saying he can’t eat what you serve. Use this to your advantage and invite some friends of your child who like the foods you plan to introduce.

7. Don’t Use Food as Punishment or Reward

By bribing your child with dinner so he can have dessert, you are telling him that sweet dessert foods are better than nutritious entrees. Rewarding good behavior with food also teaches unhealthy associations between feelings and food. By withholding food as punishment, you teach that it is a weapon which can be dangerous in the future.

8. Don’t Make Separate Meals

It can be tempting to simply give picky eaters a different meal, but this can do more harm. You probably don’t have time to make two different meals and it could lead to not wanting to eat what everyone else is eating in the future because he is used to “special” meals.

9. Don’t Force Them to Eat

Many people think that you should at least make your child try a new food or an item on their plate, but some experts disagree. Those against this idea say that it is a negative method that could end up backfiring on you in the future. Instead of forcing your child to try a dish, tell them how amazing it tastes. Even if he doesn’t try the food this time, he might the next time you serve it or the time after that. 

Want to know how this mum handles her picky eaters? Check the video out: