It is a well known fact that toddlers are amongst the worlds most picky eaters. For various reasons, they pick and prod at their food and refuse to eat anything that is nutritious. It can be both frustrating and worrisome for parents looking for a way to expose their child to new foods and expand their young pallets. While there is no overnight fix for your child’s restricted eating habits, there are ways you can give your tot the nutrients they need while encouraging to expand their taste even when they only want to eat peanut butter sandwiches for every single meal of the day.
Give them their food and walk away
It’s hard, of course, to just give your child their dinner and walk away. If you are eating separately, make your child’s plate of food, sit them down, and walk away. Don’t hover over them while they attempt the food that you gave them. Giving them the space to try out their lunch or dinner without the scrutiny or watchful eye of mom and dad can lessen their anxiety around mealtime and allow them to freely explore their meal.
Mix it up
So you make a beautiful dinner of roasted chicken, vegetables, and perfectly fluffed rice and your little one turns to you and says that they want pizza for dinner. While it definitely is not feasible to make two dinners for your little one at their request, you can try to give a little to get a lot. For example, with dinner, you can give them a piece of the roasted chicken and veggies with a side of something that they definitely will enjoy like fruit or pretzels. The mix will be more encouraging and help them enjoy mealtime rather than dread it.
Bribery is always an option
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little bribery when it comes to getting your child to eat their food. While you may not want to go down this road every single time they refuse to eat, it can be a helpful tool to have when you and your child have been having a week long meal time stand off. This is how it works; give your child dinner and offer them something they want once they are finished. That something may be dessert, extra TV time, or time to play with their toys after their bath. Again, this may not be an everyday option but your child might find that they actually like the food they have been roped in to trying.
Cook together and eat together
Giving your child the opportunity to be a part of the cooking process can help them understand how their food is made and be more inclined to eat their own creation. Also, your child watches and pays attention to every single thing you do including your eating habits. Spend more meals together, with them watching you eat healthier options and they will naturally begin to gravitate towards those types of foods. Get your hands on our matching aprons for you and your little to whip up something amazing in the kitchen together.
Patience is key
Above every other tactic advised, patience is the best advice when it comes to feeding your little. Yes, it can be frustrated when they don’t want to eat healthy foods. And yes, it is understandable to want them to sit at the table until their done. However, the phase of toddlerhood is short lived and they will likely grow out of their picky eating habits and learn to love fresh, delicious food.
By Latifah Miles, MINI+ME contributor