I am a picky eater. Catsup (or almost any condiment), vegetables, fish, eggs… all scare me. It’s both embarrassing and rude and I wish I wasn’t that way. In full hypocrisy I planned to make my kids great eaters, because I didn’t want them to be the awkward ones that wouldn’t eat anything at the dinner table, like me.
Because of my history, I can usually stay one step ahead of my kids when it comes to avoiding their food. Picky eating is a common mom topic so here are my tactics, in case you have a mini me on your hands:
- Food choices: Our kids get three different foods for each meal (because the plates have three sections). It’s really important to offer a balanced meal and avoid sweets or junk food. Of course if a donut is one of the three foods then they will not want to touch anything else on their plates. So step 1, set yourself up for success by only offering healthy food options.
- Approachable food: Little fingers tend to gravitate towards bite sized food, anything that has a dip, and varying sizes and textures of food. Keep it exciting and they will eat things just because it’s fun. For example, for vegetables, I’ll usually do a “dip” of hummus or ranch dressing to spice it up a little. Step 2, make it fun!
- Negotiations: My kids will sometimes eat all of one food on their plate and then want more of only that food. For example; if they are given pasta, green beans, and grilled chicken for dinner, they will eat all the chicken and then ask for more chicken and completely avoid everything else. Of course eating grilled chicken is fine, but we don’t want them to develop a fear of trying new foods. The rule around here is they must at least try another food (ex. 3 bites) on their plate before getting more of the “chosen” food. Step 3, reward trying new foods.
- Take it or leave it: Many moms tell me that their child won’t eat what they prepared, so then the mom makes a new meal, to try and get their child to eat something. This is a fine example of how kids train their parents. Think about it this way, if your child is hungry they will eat what you prepared, you are not a short order cook. I recall a few months ago making my kids’ favorite homemade pizza. My little M pushed it away and went back to playing. I waited, and offered it again, and she still refused. Truth is she probably wasn’t hungry, but I wasn’t about to go create a custom buffet to coax her into eating. This scenario occasionally happens. I remind my kids that there are no other meals. They do not starve, but definitely learn to eat what is given to them. And sometimes they just aren’t hungry, and that’s ok! Not caving, and only offering them what you have prepared is crucial. Step 4, mom’s not a short order cook.
Thankfully, it’s working and my kids are willing to try foods and eat their meals with minimal fuss. Happy non-picky eating!