Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Becca McCurdy shares some proven strategies for overcoming picky eating. Try to avoid frequent snacking, start small, use positive peer power, and prepare meals together.
Even though most children will go through a picky eating phase, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for you as a parent. It can feel disrespectful and wasteful when your children don’t eat what you prepare for them, and no one enjoys battles at the dinner table. That’s why I’m going to share a few of my favorite strategies for helping your child become a more adventurous eater.
- The best advice is to avoid frequent snacking. Often, the root cause of picky eating is that children simply aren’t hungry after filling up on juice and snacks throughout the day. Try to leave bigger gaps between meal times.
- Another good tip is to start small. Try introducing one new food at a time, starting with just a bite or two and increasing the portion by a small amount each time you serve the food again. Remember, it can take a child 10 to 15 times of trying a food before they begin to like it, so don’t give up!
- An unusual but effective tip that I’ve learned is to invite an adventurous friend over to eat. Children are much more likely to try something that they see a peer eating, and you can harness this peer power in a positive way.
- Involving kids in meal prep is another great way to promote new flavors. Take your kids shopping, and offer them choices. Instead of asking “do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner, broccoli or cauliflower?”
- Finally, try to remember to enjoy each other at meal time. Model good behavior by eating a variety of healthy foods, and keep offering them to your child. If there’s nutritious food available, I promise that your child isn’t going to starve!