20% of kids are such picky eaters that it interferes with their ability to try anything they’re not comfortable with. But as a parent, you likely know that a child refusing to eat certain foods is not unique and it is something many kids struggle with.
Getting your child to eat a variety of foods can sometimes seem like an uphill battle. While experts say most kids grow out of their resistance to try new foods, it’s understandable you may worry about their nutrition until then.
In this blog post, we’ll go over some ways you can help improve the types of foods your children eat without starting a meltdown at the dinner table.
Read on for more.
Children learn from example, and their parents are their most powerful role models. Other people who are in children’s lives often, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles are also influential in your child’s life. Their behavior and preferences can impact a child’s behavior and preferences.
When you eat with your child, make sure that your child sees you eating a wide variety of foods. If there’s something you don’t like, don’t make a big show of it, as your child will be convinced that he or she won’t like it either.
Above all, don’t tell children that they won’t like a food they’ve not tried just because you or your partner may not like it. Unless there’s a legitimate concern over allergy, don’t express this to your child. Instead, happily eat all that is offered to you when you’re in their presence.
We’re not suggesting you buy a pack of cherries if you don’t like them every week and let them rot in your fridge. But, buying things you don’t like every so often shows kids that you’re taking initiative when it comes to trying new foods and challenging yourself.
Many parents avoid buying things they don’t like, and thus never introduce it to their children. If you hate raisins, for example, don’t deprive your child of the joys and nutrients of them because of your palette.
As your child is related to you, he or she may or may not like the foods you don’t like. But let them at least give it a try and decide for themselves.
As we mentioned previously, you are your child’s biggest role model. It’s difficult to tell your child to try foods they’ve never tried before if you’re not also trying new foods.
As a family, you can try new foods and experiment with them. Tell your kids you’ve never tried a certain dish and that you’ll be cooking it that night. Or, regularly visit ethnic restaurants with different types of cuisines. This will normalize the experience of trying new foods so that when confronted by a food a child’s not tried, diving in and biting into it is already routine.
Teach your child that trying new foods can be a fun adventure you do together as a family and that they can expand on it by themselves.
If your child tries a new food and proclaims they hate it, ask them to describe it beyond the fact that they hate it. What does it taste like? Does it remind them of anything? If it’s a fruit, ask them if it reminds them of a choice between two fruits.
Discuss what it is about the food the child doesn’t like. “Everything,” isn’t a proper response. Instead, ask about the taste, the texture and the temperature. Is it too bitter? Too sweet? Too crunchy?
Let your child know that it’s okay to not like foods, but that they can try it another time and give it another chance. Maybe they’ll like the food later, or they’ll find it better cooked in a different fashion.
Introducing a wide variety of foods when a child is young is a great way to ensure that they eat many types of foods. If you introduce new toddler-friendly food before your child has the capability to have much of a reaction to its taste, this will help your child in the long run.
By the time they’re old enough to deduce what’s familiar and what isn’t, many different types of foods will be familiar to them.
We know it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, where you make the same few dishes because they’re cheap and easy to make. But doing this causes your children to only be familiar with your rotation, and not open to trying new foods.
Try to expand beyond “Taco Tuesdays” or “Fish Fridays” and introduce different meals as often as you can.
For some parents, getting your child to eat a variety of foods seems like an epic battle. This can be normal for some children and isn’t necessarily cause for concern unless food causes anxiety or other abnormal behaviors.
Don’t stress too much over a fussy eater, but do try your best to get your child eating as many different types of foods as possible.
If your child is gluten sensitive or has Celiac disease, why not try some of our delicious gluten-free snacks for your family?