This is a guest post from Sarah at Wellbeingkid.com
Feeding a toddler who is a picky eater is not for the faint of heart. Few things can test a parent’s patience as much as the frustration when your kid just won’t eat. To think that these little buggers will put any toy or rock in their mouth; come meal time you’ve got to pry their mouths open just to feed them.
As for myself, I had started on the wrong feeding track with baby #1. Here’s how I turned the tables around (literally!) and corrected my mistake for my baby #2.
Tips to Deal with Picky Eater Toddlers
1. Create a mealtime routine
Let your child know that mealtimes are fixed. Minimize eating finger foods and drinking milk or juice in between meals. Allow your child to learn that refusing to eat is not an option. Everyone around the house is to be seated together to enjoy the meal, and your little one is also expected to partake in it. Bring your child to the table and elevate his high chair at level with everybody else. Let your child see and appreciate the food. Take your baby every now and then to the restaurant. This way you can teach him early on that food and variety is special.
2. Don’t become the go-to short order chef for your kid
There is no such thing as a kiddie meal, impart that to your child’s mind early on. Do not give in to his protests over the lack of food choices just because all the meals are not to his liking. Your child must eat what everybody else eats. If he/she is still to grow baby teeth molars, then mash and shred the food into small bits.
3. Bring your kid to the kitchen
Most kids are picky eaters because they are not accustomed to the smelling of some food ingredients. Allow your child the opportunity to appreciate the sights and smell of your cooking. Let him know that making dinner is a fun activity. Bring his crib or exersaucer in the kitchen to allow him to see you in action. Let him take a taste of your cake pudding or soup. Let him mash his potato or avocado. Engage all of your child’s senses and it will bear fruit later on.
4. Avoid threats and comparison
Do not lose your temper just because your child won’t eat to your liking. Likewise, do not voice out your frustration with his appetite as compared to other children his age. Small kids have varying tastes, and they border on the extreme sometimes. Do not issue threats or make them feel guilty. Refusing to eat a particular food must not be considered as a “bad” behavior. Keep your expectations in check, experiment and keep your wits with you.
5. Bombard your kid with variety
After your child is already used to eating baby cereals on his own, give him a variety of food on one sitting. Small kids are particular about color. Buy kid plates in enticing colors. Red and orange-colored plates can make veggies and carbs look appetizing. It’s alright to put a teaspoon of dessert, a teaspoon of vegetables and a small portion of meat and carbs in one plate. Allow him to pick them up, play and make some mess with his food. That’s your baby’s way of forming the connection with what’s in front of him. Mix and match seasonal fruits and milk at the blender. Segregate your kid’s meal according to colors and keep portions in small amounts.
6. Extend your patience
Do not expect your picky toddler to immediately like a new food at one sitting. It usually takes at least five tries to get him to eat something. Do not get discouraged if he is still refusing the food for the whole week. Be patient; perhaps your child will take heed on the tenth try. If he is refusing to open his mouth at the mere sight of greens, then mix or sneak it around his favorite food next time.
7. Get creative
If your child won’t eat veggie sticks, try to introduce some mayo or chocolate dips. Cut your vegetables into thin slices and arrange it on his plate. Buy some vegetable cutters in kid-friendly shapes. Take a cue from Japanese parents and arrange your toddler’s plate to look like his favorite cartoon character. Spice up your applesauce by adding some cinnamon or vanilla. Make your mashed potato or eggs yummy by adding mayo or by sprinkling some herbs. Get your child to “cook” and to assist you, so he will appreciate his food.
Plan and prepare your food with your discriminating picky eater in mind. Do not push him to eat whole veggies at once. Take your time and introduce him to a variety of food. When it comes to toddler feeding, patience and creativity is the key.