The Chronicles of a Picky Eater- Part 2

In part 1 I identified 6 types of picky eaters based on my experience as a mother and teacher. In part 2 we will be concentrating mostly on how to prevent bringing up picky eaters as well as providing some practical solutions to parents with picky children. I will be sharing some things that have worked with me as well as some solutions that I have discovered through basic online research.

Disclaimer: Again, I am not a medical professional. Seek medical advice if you feel that your child’s case is severe and should be addressed accordantly.

My Experience:

The first thing that I did to avoid having a picky eater was actually done out of laziness. Since my child was able to hold a spoon, I let her try to feed herself. I was not doing it to build her motor skills, instead, I found she could carry on with this activity forever which in turn allowed for “me time”. Later, with some research, I learned that children who spoon-feed themselves gain a tremendous amount of motor and cognitive skills.

I also remember that I used to sit down at every meal with my child. I didn’t know this but I was being a model to my daughter, showing her how she should eat and that whatever we were eating was safe and delicious. Most children react toward food, based on others’ reactions. You can argue against me on this one because again it was my personal experience. Most parents with picky eaters hesitate to let their babies try to feed themselves because of the mess. I think that the mess is worth more than having a pick eater and eventually they will start to understand the proper way to eat.

Enough blabbing and let’s get to the practical. How do we solve this problem?

  1. Let your child feed her/himself

I explained above the benefits of letting your child eat alone when they can. I think these are the seeds being planted for preventing pick eaters altogether. I also believe that it builds autonomy and confidence. The reality is that kids, just like us, will eventually have their most and least favorite foods and that is totally fine.

2. Eat together

Eat together as much as possible. Not only are you serving as a role model but it’s a great discipline that your child will develop for the next generation to come. While eating together make the conversations around the table light and fun.

3. TV + Food= Disaster

I have seen mothers put on tv as a manipulation or a strategy to have their children eat. What do I mean by this? They put the tv on so their kids don’t focus on the food that their mothers are spoon-feeding into their child’s mouths. Now, I understand that most mothers do this out of desperation, and having their kids eat is better than not eating. However, this is creating a very negative feeding cycle. First, of all it’s not sustainable, you will not be able to feed your child in his mouth forever. Second, your child is not mindful of how much and what he is even eating.

4. Serving the food on their own.

Picky eaters need autonomy. They are told over and over again how they don’t eat and how much this is an issue. To restore their confidence in eating again, let the child choose what to put on their plates and how much of it. If a child does not like a particular food, it’s totally fine and they should not be criticized for it. Chances are that one day their curiosity will take them to try the food that they once detested.

5. Build little chefs.

This one can be a little hard when we are trying to rush through preparing dinner. If possible, maybe during the weekend allow children to get involved in the kitchen. Most importantly, let the child feel that the food is tasty because of their help. What kid would not like to eat what they’ve created?

6. Quality over Quantity

Kids go through phases that their appetite will decrease and refuse to eat anything. If that is the case, it’s especially crucial to eliminate snacks and try to wait until the child is extremely hungry. When children are very hungry they are most likely to find the food that they are eating tasty and eat more nutrient condense foods.

7. In desperate measures reward them

Some kids are extremely picky that some of these bits of advice will not work. You might try a passive reward like saying, “When you finish eating, I’ll take you to the park” or “When we finished our meal we will watch a movie together” and “Whoever finishes first will get to pick the movie.” They’ve been rewarded without even realizing it. Charting is another fun reward, for every time they finish their meal, you can chart it down and at the end of a milestone, they get a reward.

8. Don’t let them know they are being picky

Don’t let your child know that he or she is a picky eater or that your child is skinny because he or she does not eat well. This will create not only a bad relationship with food but it the child can potentially a negative body image.

Finally, consistency is the key. However, do talk to a medical professional if you think that your child’s eating habits are affecting their health and development.

I hope these tips are helpful and please share any other tip that has not been mentioned in this post. It would be a great benefit to us mommies.

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