3 Tips for Feeding Your Picky Eater
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Do you have a picky or selective eater at home? Having a pickier eater has the potential to be one of the more frustrating and stressful situations you can deal with as a parent. Of the many children I’ve seen through my paediatric practice, parents with picky eaters are the most common. You are not alone!
The good news is that there are multiple strategies we can implement to help our little eaters become more adventurous and accepting of new tastes and textures. The key here is to remember that it takes time. Be patient and loving but firm as you implement strategies and you’ll see success.
1. Division of Responsibility
I like to talk to parents about what our food roles are in the home since this is a good place to start when trying to address picky eating tendencies. The Division of Responsibility in feeding is the gold standard resource for feeding children, developed by go-to authority and dietitian Ellyn Satter. This model outlines what our food role as parents is as well as the food role of our children.
→ We choose the food (both groceries and meals)
→ We choose where they eat (in front of the TV, at the table, outside etc.)
→ We provide regular meals and snacks
→ Let your child grow into the body that is right for him/her
→ Eat the amount they need (this is a tough one for all of us with toddlers who seem to live off the air!)
→ Learn to eat the food you eat
→ Learn good mealtime manners and behaviour
2. Make the Same Meal
For those of you with picky eaters at home, it can sometimes make you feel like a short-order cook! One of the most beneficial things you can do for your picky eater is to stop catering to their every like and dislike. Make the same meal for everyone in the home. Modifications can certainly be made, especially for those with allergies or different lifestyles that affect diet like eating vegetarian. Serving one meal not only frees up your time but offers your child the opportunity to like a variety of foods. It also gives you the chance to be a positive role model for your children as they see you tasting and enjoying new foods.
To help with this process, ensure that the meal consists of at least one component your child likes assuring that he/she will eat something. For example, if beef and broccoli are on the menu, serve it with plain rice or pasta if that is something your child enjoys.
3. Set Regular Meal and Snack Times
This helps your child come to the table hungry. Do not offer food or beverages (aside from water) in between these designated times, no matter how tempting it is to chase them around the house with snacks as they play! Consistency and routine will help your child understand what is expected. If they don’t finish their food at mealtime, that’s no problem, they can get down from the table and continue about their day. If, however; they ask for food a few minutes later, you can kindly tell them that they can eat at the next scheduled time.
With a little time and encouragement, kids will learn to like different foods and may even surprise you with their requests! There are lots of other strategies that can be implemented to assist you in helping your picky eater broaden their palate and appreciate new tastes and textures. For more information or to book an appointment for your child, contact us, we love to help!