is-your-child-a-picky-eater

Struggling to find the right meal plan for your little one? We know the feeling. It can be frustrating when every meal turns into a heated argument or bitter memory. But fear not, here are 11 carefully selected tips for you to turn your picky eater into a foodie!

1. Experiment with different flavors

experiment-with-different-flavours

To change picky eating habits, you need to let your child taste a range of flavors so he/she will develop food preferences. 

Try these out:

  • Have your little one try smoked, pickled, sour, bitter, and unusual flavors.
  • Offer bite-sized tastes of each food or flavor type at least ten times across different days.

By regularly exposing your little one to new food or flavors (in small amounts), you will help to refresh your little one’s palate making them more likely to try new food.

2. Stay away from arguments

It can be frustrating when your little one refuses to eat. However, remind yourself to always stay calm. Maybe your little one just isn’t feeling hungry. If so, let your child eat more when he/she starts feeling hungry.

3. Make time for family meals

eat-with-the-family-occasionally

Research shows that family meals promote a healthy weight. So if you can, try having at least 3 meals weekly with all family members present at the table.

4. Find a middle ground

turn-arguments-into-negotiations

If your little one refuses to eat, here’s one neat trick you can try to get them to eat.

Try this out:

  1. Outside of mealtimes, ask your little one if he/she will taste something new.
  2. Give a creative name to this food. 
  3. Only give a small amount for a taste.
  4. If your little one dislikes the taste, try this trick again with the same food another time.

5. Be a good role model

Research has shown that healthy eating among mothers tends to reduce picky eating behaviors among children.

Try this out:

  • Be positive about any food even if you dislike it.

6. Make mealtimes fun!

make-mealtimes-fun

Fussy eaters hate and dread mealtimes. To change this attitude, try adding some fun to each meal.

Try these out:  

  • Use your creativity to turn mealtimes into storytimes (e.g. arrange your little one’s food into a character).
  • Include fun facts (e.g. if your little one likes sharks, tell him/her that sharks love to eat tuna).

7. Experiment with different temperatures

Sometimes, no matter what you try, your little one may still refuse to eat. You might be surprised to see your little one gobble up all their food simply after a change in temperature. 

Try this out:

  • Feed your little one, a warm and cold version of the same food.
  • Then find out what he/she prefers.

8. Let your little one have a say

give-your-little-one-some-control-in-meal-planning

Including your little ones in meal planning can make them more willing to finish their meals.

Try this out:

  • Let your little one choose 2-3 ingredients for each meal.
  • Serve small amounts and for new food, serve even smaller amounts.
  • Give a goal for him/her to reach (e.g. 5 bites).

9. Keep on trying

It might be surprising, but your little one can develop a preference for food he/she previously disliked. The key is to never give up!

Try this out:

  • Give your little one food he/she previously refused.
  • After 15 tries, if he/she still rejects the food, let it go.

10. Start a Friday night ritual

start-a-friday-night-ritual

Try shaking things up by planning special activities to do during/after certain meal times (e.g. Friday dinners can be accompanied by a memorable movie).

Try this out:

  • Try a new recipe every Friday.
  • Share a story before dinner every Friday.
  • Or watch a movie after dinner every Friday.

11. Make Food Fun!

Food can be a way for your little one to explore and learn new ways of having fun.

Try these out:

  • Hide veggies: Stick peas into pieces of penne pasta and have your little one search for them.
  • Make art: Help your little one make animals or pictures with vegetables and eat them.
  • Dinner party: Invite your little one’s stuffed toys or dolls to dinner.
  • Spin the plate: Slowly spin the plate and tell your little one to grab something as it spins.
  • Shape it: Cut bread, cheese and pastries into shapes using cookie cutters.

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We hope the tips above have been helpful. If you have more tips to share, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Do also check out our blog titled “Why Are My Kids Not Eating?” to discover the underlying reasons why your little one is not eating well.

References:

Carden, Jennifer. (2008, March 5). The Toddler Café: Fast, Healthy, and Fun Ways to Feed Even the Pickiest Eater. Chronicle Books.

Lew, Desmond. (2011, October 24). Benefits of Family Meals. Child Development Institute. https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-health-news/benefits-of-family-meals/#gs.r1ww1f 

Taylor, Caroline et al. (2015, July 25). Picky/Fussy Eating In Children: Review Of Definitions, Assessment, Prevalence And Dietary Intakes. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666315003438