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How to Deal with Picky Eaters

Is your child a picky eater? Let's start by defining what a picky eater really is.

A Picky Eater is someone who refuses to eat or only eats the same food over and over.

On the other hand, there are Beige Eaters - those who enjoy food such as chicken, milk, white bread, peanut butter, and potatoes (basically, everything resembling beige or white).

What you want is a child who is a Colorful Eater - who eats various kinds of foods in various colors, be it carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fruits or vegetables.

If meal times have become a battleground, try encouraging your child to eat by doing the following:

  • Have structured meal-times. Better if you can do small but frequent meals to avoid more food being wasted.

  • Let your children see that you enjoy eating healthy meals. As I always say, babies and toddlers are sponges. Follow the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do Principle.

  • Praise your child when they try something new; just don’t overdo it.

  • If you can, involve your child in the food preparation. They will be more interested to eat what they helped prepare.

  • Do think of different ways to present foods. Some kids shy away from food because of the shape or texture (make the food look more fun!)

  • Do set a time limit of, say 20-30 minutes for the meal. If the food isn’t eaten, take it away.

  • Offer small portions from various food groups. See what they like or don't like.

  • Offer alternatives to the food that they don't like.

  • Serve a new food with a food they like: don't try to disguise the food they don't like. IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK.

And of course, make sure NOT TO DO the following:

  • Bribe children so they will eat. They will use food as a power mechanism over you.

  • Get mad at them. Maintain a calm and fun environment. When you react negatively when they refuse food, the more they will do it (believe me - my 19 month old daughter has a habit of testing my patience and not just during mealtimes).

  • Give meals between meals on snacks, juice and fizzy drinks.

Keep trying! If a food is rejected, it doesn’t mean they will never eat it. We all change our food preferences over time. It can take up to eight to 10-15 attempts to get a child to eat a new food. As long as they aren't losing weight and are very active, there is nothing to worry about.

And by the way, breastfed babies tend to be less picky as they get to experience what their moms eat from the milk. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to eat healthy meals. Also introduce various types of foods early on and try Baby-Led Weaning. It sure is messy, but I know right away what Kara's favorites are (and what she sets aside).


What's your child's favorite food?

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