A Guide to Helping Picky EatersDo you find yourself facing the daily challenge of coaxing your child to eat their veggies or try new foods? You’re not alone. Many parents and caregivers grapple with picky eating habits in their children. Foods they once ate with excitement are now met with hesitation. However, navigating this terrain doesn’t have to be a constant struggle. With patience, persistence, and a dash of encouragement, you can help broaden your child’s palate and instill healthy eating habits for life.

Below are some of our tried and true tips!

1. Lead by Example

Children often mimic the behavior of their parents and caregivers. If they see you enjoying a variety of foods, they’re more likely to follow suit. Avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and instead focus on balanced eating habits.

2. Offer Choices

While it’s important to encourage variety, it’s also essential to respect your child’s preferences. Offer them choices within reason, such as asking whether they’d like broccoli or cauliflower with dinner. By giving them a sense of control, they may feel more empowered to explore different options. Avoid being a short-order cook. Everyone should still be offered the same meal with options, not completely separate meals.

3. Introduce New Foods Gradually

Start by incorporating small, bite-size portions of new foods alongside familiar ones. Encourage your child to take a bite, even if they’re hesitant. The goal is just for them to try it, not eat all of it. Over time, they may grow accustomed to the taste and texture.

4. Involve Them in Meal Preparation

Allowing children to participate in meal preparation can spark their interest in trying new foods. Let them help pick out groceries, wash vegetables, stir ingredients, or even assemble their own sandwiches or pizzas. They’ll feel a sense of ownership and be more inclined to taste the final product.

5. Be Calm and Present

Make mealtime pleasant by keeping the schedule consistent, avoiding screens at the table or in the kitchen, and engaging in conversation with your littles. If you notice your child eating new foods, be sure to praise their efforts! In our classrooms, students gather at set times each day for meals, accompanied by teachers who actively engage them in conversation. These discussions cover various topics, including students’ daily experiences, interests, and the importance of making healthy choices. This practice is integral to our Links to Learning curriculum!

6. Limit Table Time

Making your child sit at the dinner table until they clean their plate can easily lead to negative associations with food and be distressful for both children and their parents/caregivers. We recommend that after thirty minutes at most, if your child has resisted a food, it is best to let your child leave the table and try again another day.

7. Don’t Give Up

Remember, picky eating is often a phase that many children outgrow with time. Stay positive and persistent in your efforts to expose them to a variety of foods. Celebrate small victories along the way, whether it’s trying a new vegetable or finishing a meal without fuss. By fostering a positive mealtime environment, you can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food that will serve them well into adulthood.

If you’re curious about other ways our teachers help children develop, contact us today!