Griffin was such a picky eater that I seriously thought I’d have to admit him to the hospital and put him on a feeding tube.
And let’s face it; few things bring us more satisfaction that seeing our kids well nourished. Somehow I feel I’ve “failed” if this isn’t the case. But, alas, sometimes we get a picky one – or our good eaters go through picky stages. When that’s the case, try these 8 tips to get back on track.
- Feed child three meals and one snack a day
As mamas, we often think that we need to be feeding our kids 24/7 to be sure they’re getting enough nourishment. But I’ve found that it’s important to let our kids actually get hungry before we set them down for a meal. So breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. And a little nursing or drinks in between.
- Let them feed themselves
I’ll admit it. I spoon-fed my guy until he was about 14 months old because I was sure I’d get more in him. It was becoming annoying for both of us so I stopped. And once I did, he started eating more! Kids enjoy the satisfaction of feeding themselves.
- Don’t encourage, beg or even watch them eat.
The more I pushed food on Griffin, the more he’d resist. With picky eaters, there’s usually a power struggle going on. So the best tactic is just let them be. By not interfering, your child will actually love satisfying his own hunger. It’s a beautiful thing!
- Provide colorful, flavorful variety at each meal
Kids like to try different tastes if we start early. My goal is to rotate fruits, vegetables, starches and proteins as much as I can. I also dress foods with spices and condiments. (My guy loves spicy Dijon mustard! Who knew?) Avoid the easy food ruts like buttered noodles or blueberries, and expose your child to new flavors.
- Try some props
Let’s face it, kids have the attention span of goldfish; a half hour in the high chair can seem unbearable.
- Try putting that chair in from of a window so they can look out and see birds, cars and life going on.
- You can also put washable books on their high chair so they can look at pictures as they eat peas.
- Even a little car or doll can keep them company.
- Keep challenging them with new eating behaviors
Towards the end of a meal, reward your child by letting them practice a more grown-up eating behavior. If she’s still eating with her hands, let her practice with a fork or spoon. If he still uses a sippy, let him drink straight from a glass. If she’s still in a booster chair, try dining without one. All of these boost confidence – and can help get a few extra bites in as well.
- Allow them to be part of the food choices
As your child gets older, let them pick between two food options. Do you want corn tortillas or rice noodles? Do you want strawberries or pears? By allowing your child to pick which food, they’ll feel more in control and excited about eating.
- Include your child in food prep
Can your child crack an egg? Stir yogurt or butter toast? Let them help as appropriate for their age. Don’t think just because they are 18 months they can’t take part in some way! By just watching me crack and cook an egg, Griffin now loves them!
I know from experience that it is possible to turn a picky eater into a good one and these tips helped me do it.
And I know that many of YOU have your own tips and tricks up your sleeve.
How have YOU tackled any eating issues in your kids? Share with us so we can learn from each other.