Why children can become picky eaters
Does your child refuse to eat certain foods or wouldn’t eat dishes served in a certain way? There are a number of reasons why children can become picky eaters. Some kids are naturally more sensitive to taste, smell and texture. Other children develop picky eating habits by copying their parents‘ fussy eating habits. If you think your child is a picky eater, read our tips for parents.
Fussy eating habits are much more likely to appear when parents punish, bribe or reward their kids’ eating behaviors.
The utimate goal for feeding a picky eater is to try new types of food and to keep food from starting a battle. How to reach it? You might find the following tips for parents of picky eaters useful.
Offer a Variety of Foods
Your child ought to choose from a variety of foods at mealtimes like a vegetable, fruit, protein and starch. Remember that your family menu cannot be limited to the child’s favorite foods.
Children can be offered a certain food up to 15 times before they actually try it. If everything else fails, children will usually eat bread or pasta.
Set a Meal Schedule
Snacks and meals are equally important to meet children’s nutrition needs. Setting a schedule of breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and bedtime snack makes children realize that there is a meal coming every two to three hours and that they will not be hungry.
To make the schedule work, parents should avoid giving children food between the set times.
If your child chooses not to have a meal or a snack, he or she can wait until the next scheduled time in a couple of hours.
If your little one refuses to eat, make sure he or she sits at the table until the majority of the family is done eating, within reason.
Make Meals Pleasant
You should always pay a lot of attention to the mealtime environment when feeding a child. The eating space needs to be clean and bright and all kinds of distractions must be limited. Conversation should be pleasant, without arguing. And most importantly, mealtime is not a time for watching television.
As a parent, you have responsibilities for feeding your child. Remember that your child also has responsibilities so make sure he or she knows what they are.
- Children control what, where and when food is provided.
- . Children decide whether or not to eat the food, and how much to eat
Respect Eating Quirks
Take a look at all people around you and soon you’ll realize that everyone has their own quirks about eating. Fo example, some kids eat a sandwich cut into triangles without crusts, but wouldn’t touch the same sandwich cut into squares with the crusts.
A child may eat small pieces of cauliflower, but avoid the stems. What’s more, these quirks can change overnoght. Foods that your child eats today may not be consumed tomorrow. It is essential to realize that your child may react in a different way to the same foods on different days. However, it is not necessary to offer a substitute food.
Don’t Become a Short Order Cook
You need to realize that it’s fine if your child doesn’t like or doesn’t seem to be eating the foods that you have prepared for a meal or snack. Don’t get tempted to rush to the kitchen and cook dishes that you know your kid will eat.
Stick to the rule of scheduled mealtimes. So if your child refuses a meal or snack, there will be another one in a few hours and he or she should be able to wait until then. When children are hungry because they actually chose not to eat, they are more likely to eat what is prepared next time.
Limit High Calorie Drinks
One of the reasons why your child may not eat the foods you prepare is that he or she gets too many calories from juice, soda or milk. If your child drinks too much, he or she can get full and eat little at mealtimes. That’s why it’s a good idea to limit your child to 4 ounces of juice and 20 ounces of milk a day. Soda is not recommended for children as it has no nutritional value.
Don’t Always Prepare Dessert
Dessert doesn’t need to be served with every meal or every day. When you do offer a dessert is, consider the following ideas:
- If your child doesn’t want to eat, withholding dessert is not the solution as your child may learn to value dessert more than nutritious foods, which can change eating habits for life.
- If a child is forced to eat an entire meal before dessert, he or she may be full, but will likely eat the dessert anyway.
- If your child rushes through the meal to get to dessert, try offering dessert with the meal.
Being a picky eater is sometimes a response to controlling or pushy parents, or to bribery. The fight over food can then result in resistance and disobedience from the child.
As a parent remember that it is the child’s decision as to what to eat and whether or not to eat the foods you have prepare. The child may eat very little or nothing at all, but he or she will make up the nutrition later that day or later in the week.