August 7, 2020
As toddlers transition to table foods, many do not dive in with gusto, instead preferring to only eat one food item, meal after meal. But just like good manners, frequent hand washing, and other desirable behaviors, you can teach your child healthy eating habits at an early age.
Consider the Following 3 Tips
Avoid power struggles
Don’t count the number of bites your child must eat, require a “clean plate,” or force your child to remain at the table for long periods of time. Parents are in charge of when a meal is served and what foods are served; the child controls how much he or she eats. Your child will, over time, generally meet his/her nutritional needs for calories and the varied nutrients.
Avoid the kid food trap
Many toddlers probably don’t start out as picky eaters but evolve into them when repeatedly given meals high in processed ingredients and sugar, salt, and fat. Chicken nuggets in cute little dinosaur shapes seem like a kid food but won’t be as appealing when your 10-year-old still won’t eat chicken in any other form. Serve your toddler the same meal you’re eating and include freshly prepared foods, fresh vegetables, and fruit. When this is the only option, they’ll eat it.
Eat meals together
Not only are family meals a great time for practicing table manners and reconnecting, they’re also a good time to introduce new foods. Encourage your child to sniff, lick, or put the food to the lips—it’s moving in the right direction! You can use silly names for food (i.e., broccoli are now “trees”) to make unfamiliar foods seem more approachable. Before the meal, involve your child in food selection and preparation. Even toddlers can select colorful produce and help to wash or stir ingredients.
The Bottom Line
You can help curb picky eating by serving nutritious meals, modeling healthful eating habits, and getting your kids involved in the kitchen.