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All toddlers at some point of time show signs of being a picky eater. Some parents self-blame, or find themselves being blamed for their child’s picky eating. Well, it’s time you stop doing that. Recent research has proved that this is not a parenting fail or poor upbringing. Instead, it is something much more deep rooted…
It is quite normal for a toddler to throw tantrums at the dinner table. People may tell you that your child is too fussy, temperamental or ill-behaved. It is easy to fall into the guilt trap. Where did you go wrong? Let’s tell you this mom: the actual reason behind your child’s picky eating habits may have nothing at all to do with your parenting style!
According to a recent UK research, both fussy eating and refusal to try new foods are largely influenced not by parenting styles but by genetics! To put it simply, fussy eaters are born this way and their genetic makeup is what makes them throw tantrums over food. However, the lead author of this research has some advice for parents. She has shared that even though we may not be the cause of the pickiness, we can positively influence their eating behaviours. How? Not by forcing and not by bribing, that’s for sure.
“When their child refuses a certain food, parents should repeatedly offer it to their ward during non-meal times. Then, they must ensure that they praise their kiddo when he or she attempts to touch or smell that food. Slowly but surely, the child will show interest in tasting that food. And if God so wills, they might even grow to like it!”
Tips to Deal with Picky Eaters
Well, that soothes our mind somewhat as far as the cause of picky eating is concerned. But how should we deal with it? Well, here’s what you should NEVER do – give in to the tantrum or bribe kids with junk food! What you must do in such a situation, difficult as it is, is be patient and understand the reason behind his behaviour. No matter how long the tantrum continues, don’t accept any of his unreasonable demands. Talk to your child about it and tell him the positives of eating healthy food. If he cries and screams, take some time out, but do not force or bribe him with junk food. Try again after some time. Here are a few tips that will help you handle your fussy eater better!
1. Introduce New Foods
Talk to him about the nutrition level of each food and its contribution in the development of the human body. Offer him new foods once in a week with the ones he already likes. This will make him eat the meal without any hassle.
2. Engage Your Toddler in Cooking
Include him in preparing the meal with you. This will not only create his interest in how the dish has been cooked, but also give him a feeling that he has prepared it. He will definitely try it. However, make sure you don’t allow him to use knives or get close to the burner.
3. No Junk Food
Even if he is being fussy about having junk food, try and avoid giving in to his demands. Instead, make him the same dish at home with added vegetables for nutrition. Keep unhealthy food out of his sight and don’t buy fast food.
4. Set a Schedule
Prepare a schedule for him. Fix his snack time and stick to it. Don’t entertain his unnecessary demands and let him wait till his snack time. Make sure he eats one fruit and two glasses of milk every day.
5. Table Manners
Teach him good table manners and let him put his plate away. Tell him to finish the food in his plate, but do not encourage overeating.
6. Strike a Balance
Don’t cut down on all the treats. A scoop of ice-cream or few biscuits or a chocolate will be good for him occasionally. Cutting down completely will make him fussy.
7. Be a Role Model
Kids have a habit of copying their parents. Be a good role model and eat healthy food with your kids. It is the best way to teach them good manners.
Introducing New Foods to Kids
A big contributor to fussiness in kids is novelty. Kids get so used to familiar tastes and textures that making them try new foods can become a challenging task. You need to provide them with healthy choices, relaxed environment and enjoyable meals. Make sure you keep these guidelines in mind to reduce pickiness as far as possible:
1. Introduce Bite by bite
Let him have a few bites of the new dish when he is hungry. Keep his favourite snacks away so that he doesn’t have them at the time of supper. The hungrier he is, the more willing he will be to taste the new dish.
2. Don’t Force
If you force him to eat the entire serving, he will create a fuss and will resist eating it at all. Tell him to try one bite of everything.
3. Make it a Habit
Prepare new dishes often. This will help him accept the new tastes and experiences, as part of his routine.
4. No Substitutes
Even if he knows that he can get away with some other dish as a substitute, ask him to taste what you have made. Until then, don’t let him have the substitute or the dish of his preference.
5. You Eat First
The best way to convince your kid that the dish made is tasty and healthy is by having it yourself first. This helps in creating a sense of security in his mind that it is tasty and he should try it.
6. Don’t Entertain Excuses
Do not hear any of his excuses regarding food. Ask him to finish the meal first and only then let him continue with other activities like watching television for going out to play.
7. Create Excitement
Excitement or curiosity of what special you are cooking for him will make him hungry before time and he will then try the new dish.
8. Make it Look Fancy and Colourful
He will love to eat dishes that resemble some cartoon character or look really fancy and colourful. It’s a trick that you should use often to get your kids to eat various food items. Psst, colourful and attractive utensils also help boost a picky eater’s appetite.
So with all these tips and tricks in your kitty, you need to stop fretting about your child not finishing his food and should be able to tackle the picky eater effortlessly. All the best!