Feeding Your Picky Eater from ParentTV

We’re happy to offer a new partner in parenting and youth services: ParentTV! This online resource offers short video tips from parenting experts, as well as blog posts and other material, all free with your Chandler Library card. This month’s featured blog post is about how to feed picky eaters.

Are you the exhausted parent of a child who insists on dinosaur pasta for every meal? Has your toddler become unbearably picky as they get older? Do you buy beautiful seasonal produce for creative lunchbox snacks only to have your kids turn their noses up at them in favor of anything that is processed, packaged, and nutritionally void? Congratulations, you’re the parent of a …Child!

That’s right. Not a “fussy” child, just a child. While it’s undoubtedly true that some kids are much less flexible than others, a LOT of kids go through periods where they are selective about what they eat and how they eat it. But what if they’re refusing more and more foods and you’re locked in a constant battle of wills at mealtimes? Here’s some things to try:

    “For your child, a grated carrot is a totally different food to a carrot that’s cut into sticks,” says dietitian Deb Blakley. Sometimes, changing the way you serve a food can make your child curious or interested in it again, or just prompt them to reevaluate their initial opinion. Get creative with peeling thin slivers off the food for them to try, cutting it in different shapes, cooking it in different ways, and combining it with different things.
    Baby steps are still steps! If your child will only eat white rice, try white rice with a small amount of something else served on top or to the side. If they’ll only eat chicken nuggets, try offering a homemade tomato sauce to dip them in. Don’t “trick” them, just make small adjustments and if they accept them, build from there.
    Positive language around food can really help shift your child’s perceptions, says Deb. If you’re hearing a lot of “that broccoli is yucky” or “I hate broccoli,” try reframing it as “you’re still learning to like broccoli.” This communicates to kids that they’re on a journey with foods and eating and they don’t have to make decisions about what they do or don’t like straight away.
    This might go against everything you were taught as a child, but letting your kiddo play with their food can be a big part of breaking down their opposition to certain things. Sometimes, even touching a new or different food is a pathway to eventually trying it, so encourage them to poke and prod things and play a game of mini golf with peas and carrot sticks if that’s what they want to do. You can even let them play with food when it’s not an eating time so they feel less stressed about the expectations around it. Make slime, potions, goo or wombat stew – just make it fun!

Whatever you do, you’ll need patience, and lots of it. But persistence pays!

Read the full article at the ParentTV blog, or log in to ParentTV with your Chandler Public Library card number and PIN to view more videos on nutrition like this one: “Kids Who Won’t Eat Veggies or Fruit.”