Have picky eaters on your hands? I remember a few years ago, before I had kids, swearing I would raise the best eaters. Now with a daughter not even 2, I’m already eating my words — sometimes even the best of us parents struggle with our kids not wanting to eat something. Which is why I was thrilled when Orlene said she would guest post for us and share some tips for our picky eaters!
￼Helping Picky Eaters
Do you wish it was easier to get your children to try new foods? To eat a healthy diet full exciting variety such as sweetcorn, mushrooms and tomatoes! Instead of fighting your kids to take bites, they happily eat what you offer.
One of the problems that many parents face is fussy children, especially fussy toddlers. It’s at this age, between 2 and 6 that children change from happily trying anything to refusing to try anything new.
“Carrots? Ew! NO THANK YOU!”
Parents learn to tread around this behavior and give them what they know they’ll like. Anything for a quiet life. (I have toddler twins and I’d do pretty much anything for a quiet life!) But gradually the ‘accepted list’ gets smaller and smaller and you reach your wits end, it’s time for a change.
How to Help Your Children Like New Food:
It’s difficult getting children to try new things. They don’t like new things. It’s a fact. (There’s a theory that it’s a survival trait, to stop us from eating poisonous things back in the day when we picked berries, ate nuts and hunted roaming hefferlumps.)
The point is children don’t like new things so when you present them with something new:
Don’t expect them to like it.
I’m not joking. If you stop expecting them to like it, you’ll stop getting frustrated when they don’t. Pressure isn’t a good thing when it comes to getting children to eat, new things or otherwise.
So, how then do you get them to like new things?
Do you ram it down their poor little throats? Sit there staring at them face to face until one of you breaks? Threaten them with no dessert until everything is eaten? NO NO and NO!
If I could give you the 4 most important bits of advice, this is what I’d say:
- No pressure. If they don’t want to eat it they don’t have too. Don’t expect them to like it
and you won’t pressure them…you already know they won’t!
- Serve everyone the same and allow them to leave what they don’t want.
- Give small portions of the new thing. Think tiny tiny tiny.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This is the theory of exposure. It takes 10 -15 times for you to decide whether you like something or not.
Before that, it generally rejected because it’s unknown. You can change that by presenting them with the new thing again and again and again. Until it stops being new and is now ‘familiar’ and hopefully ‘accepted’. (They do actually have to try the food for it to count as an exposure… sometimes you have to have a few goes before they’ll try it.)
Remember, no pressure. A negative experience can make food neophobia (being scared of new foods) stronger. You’ll need to work even harder if that happens.
It’s not easy. Introducing children to new foods takes patience and perseverance. Keep at it and in time your children will be eating a more varied diet…without those shrieks of agony.
FREE Healthy Eating for Children Workshop
If you’d like to know more great tips about introducing foods and feeding your children a healthy diet without stress, why not come along to my next FREE online workshop. All from the comfort of your own living room.
Dr Orlena Kerek
I am a pediatric doctor and mother of 4 small scamps. I write about helping children to eat healthily, without lots of stress and worry and do a great Course (which isn’t free). My book How to Help Your Children Eat Healthily will be out soon. It’s all about building healthy habits that last a lifetime.P.S. Are you looking for extra side income? I make full-time income blogging part-time—check out this easy step-by-step tutorial on how start a blog (no tech knowledge required).