Parents don’t always have it easy when it comes to feeding kids. While books and websites preach the virtues of feeding kids nothing but fruits and vegetables, parents of picky eaters may be happy just to see kids eat a cracker or chicken nugget. Some kids don’t want to stop playing to eat, either, which can make it difficult for parents to even get kids to eat anything at all. Here are some helpful hints for dealing with picky eaters that may help to make mealtimes a little less stressful.
Kids may have a reason for not wanting to eat that parents don’t know about. A child’s stomach may be feeling pain or they may feel nauseous and simply be trying to feel better. Kids may also truly not be hungry, as different growth stages may alter appetite and energy needs. Whatever the reason behind a child’s lack of desire to eat, yelling or making a fuss about the situation is sure to lessen appetite, not increase it.
Make Choices Appealing
It has been said that taste is 90 percent visual. When kids see visually unappealing options like spinach, it can discourage them from trying the whole meal. Offering more visually appealing options like broccoli and cheese or baby carrots can peak kids’ interest. Parents can also get creative and make pictures out of the food to really catch kids’ attention.
Kids may become overwhelmed by too many choices and may feel forced when they are not given a choice. To combat this dilemma, it may be helpful for parents to offer two choices. Asking “milk or apple juice?” “pork chops or chicken?” and “corn or broccoli?” may help kids to feel like they have a say, while making it more likely that they will actually eat something.
Make Sitting at the Table a Habit
Forcing kids to sit at a table and eat can seem like torture for everyone involved. Instead of going through the dreaded argument, it may be helpful to tell kids that they have to sit at the table with the rest of the family, but they do not have to eat. After a while of sitting there bored, kids are more likely to eat on their own.