Around my son’s second birthday, he transformed from a perfect eater to a picky eater. Instead of eating his favorite foods, he started throwing them on the floor. Eventually the only food he wanted to eat was milk, a lot of it. I started to worry that my picky eater was not getting enough nutrition to sustain his growth. After a lot of research, I found some interesting facts that I want to share with you.
Reasons your picky eater doesn’t want to eat
One of the reasons why a child doesn’t want to eat is perhaps an illness, for example a cold. The body is just conserving energy to get better. So don’t try to feed him, just give him more liquid.
Sometimes a child doesn’t want to eat because of a digestive system disorder. For example constipation, nausea, vomiting, tummy ache or other symptoms that may prevent him from eating.
Some children suffer because they are forced to eat without their parents taking into account their food preferences and the presence or absence of hunger.
If you are concerned about the health of your picky eater, consult with his pediatrician regarding his health.
If your picky eater is completely healthy, I have great news for you: being a picky eater is perfectly normal! Many toddlers are picky about what they eat because they naturally go through a period of slow growth. They move around and play a lot and it is hard to make them sit down for anything, even food.
All of you worried moms and dads can relax now. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage your picky eater to eat and develop healthy food habits. You just need to learn a few tricks.
Trick 1: Don’t Force Your Picky Eater to Eat
If your picky eater doesn’t want the meals you’re offering him, move the plate aside and ask him to stay seated until the meal is over. Explain to him, that the next meal he will get to eat is the next mealtime in a few hours and make sure not to give him too much to snack on until then.
Trick 2: Don’t Make Deals with Your Picky Eater
Many time parents promise to give desert or candy in exchange for a few bits of food. He will learn that trick very fast and it will become more difficult to teach him to finish his meals.
Trick 3: Don’t Forget About Drinks
It is very important that your child gets his daily amount of liquid. If you give him juice, diluted with water (one part of juice to ten parts of water). Remember not to give him milk an hour before a meal. The milk will fill him up and reduce his appetite.
Trick 4: Be an Example for Your Picky Eater
You can’t expect your child to eat vegetables if you are eating fast food instead of vegetables, it’s not fair! Your kids do what you do, not what you say. So if you don’t have healthy habits, it is time to change them for better ones. Do it for you and your child. Give your kids the same food you make yourself, that way he will learn by watching you.
Trick 5: Eat As a Family When You Can
I know that it is not always possible to sit together with two working parents and a crazy schedule. If everybody is at home in the morning, eat breakfast together and the same goes for dinner. It is a great opportunity to teach your picky eater table manners.
Trick 6: Make a Meal Schedule
It is very important to schedule a specific time for 3 meals and 2-3 snacks, spaced throughout the day. If you are working parents, just ask family members, babysitter or the day care to follow your approach and routine.
Trick 7: Give to Picky Eater a Few Choices of Food
This is the best way to introduce your picky eater to new foods. Along with foods he already likes, just add new foods to the menu and leave them on the table.
Trick 8: Experiment with Texture, Size and Color
Making food more fun is very helpful. I know we don’t always have the time to make sculptures out of boiled eggs or an animal from his favorite sandwich. What you can do is use colorful vegetables and cut them into different shapes and sizes, maybe grating them sometimes can be helpful too.
Trick 9: Teach Your Picky Eater About Nutrition
I found it very helpful explaining to my picky eater what foods are protein, which were carbs, and healthy fats. How the vitamins and proteins in different foods will help him see better, make his bones stronger, fight off colds and help him run faster and have more energy. This will give him an understanding about what food groups there are, and why it’s important to eat healthy. Now you can play a game with him. Ask him to identify different types of foods on his plate.
Trick 10: Tell Your Picky Eater How Proud You Are
Be positive with your picky eater. Tell him how proud you are, even if he only eats a few bites. It leaves him with a good feeling about food.
Don’t forget that it’s not forever. It is a short period that will go by fast. You may find that you will miss it, when it’s gone.