Most parents are familiar with the struggle of trying to feed a picky eater, because almost no toddler is receptive to trying just any new food. While it is normal for young kids to be finicky at the dinner table, it is important to maintain good nutrition and encourage your child to keep an open mind about their eating habits. Letting your child eat only junk food or keep up a highly restrictive diet can be detrimental to their health in the long-run, so try out these strategies to create more peaceful mealtimes that build up healthier habits.
Avoid a power struggle
It’s tempting to argue with a child who refuses to eat vegetables or bribe your kid to eat the right foods with the promise of dessert later. However, these strategies can create a power struggle that will ultimately let your child get his or her way. Instead of making endless compromises, stand behind your meal choices and don’t offer alternatives, but avoid becoming upset if your child only eats part of the meal. You should also be sensitive to serving sizes. A plate full of any food can overwhelm a kid, so start with a small serving and allow your child to go back for seconds if they’re still hungry.
Understand the need for good nutrition
Kids can easily associate healthy foods with negative experiences if they are forced to eat foods they don’t like. Therefore, you’ll want to remember that each meal should be a stepping stone toward good nutrition, but it’s okay if there are some missteps. It is not the end of the world if your child doesn’t finish a full serving of broccoli, especially if he or she is at least willing to try it without putting up a fight. Relish in the small victories and build toward better nutrition over time.
In order to succeed in the battle against pickiness, you might have to get creative. Sometimes, hiding vegetables in kid-favorites like pizza or pasta can be an effective strategy. You might also make a game out of eating healthy foods, or even consider starting a backyard garden so that your child is more inclined to eat the nutritious foods they’ve helped grow. Finally, making substitutions for certain foods to fill in nutritional gaps can be a good way to make sure that your youngster is getting well-rounded meals. For example, cereal and milk can be great sources of vitamin D when you have a child who refuses to eat fish.
When you need a little extra help managing your child’s health, find care on your schedule with MeMD. We make it easy to have a doctor’s visit with board-certified medical providers available for web exams around the clock.