This is guest post by Marcela De Vivo, a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area who works with NorthWest and writes on a variety of subjects such as health and nutrition. As a mother of three she enjoys sharing her tips on how to get children to eat more nutritious meals everyday.
Children are hesitant to try new foods by their very nature. Many are “picky” eaters, but not for the reasons one might think. Use the tips below to ensure your picky child gets the nutrition they need.
Respect Your Child’s Appetite
Your child may simply be not hungry. Chances are unless they are severely underweight and/or have not eaten in days that eventually their appetite will catch up with them and they will want to devour everything you put in front of them.
Respect their appetite by allowing them not to finish all the food on their plate if they have eaten a “sufficient” amount. This is the point where you need to decide to choose your battles since you know how much nutrition they have gotten in the past couple of days.
Show Your Child What To Do
Believe it or not, some very young children won’t eat the food you put in front of them because they literally don’t know what to do with it. Sit down with your child and show them how to bite and chew more complicated things like carrot sticks.
In a pinch at snack time, feed your child easy foods to get down such a yogurt, which can be slurped down without chewing –while still packing a good amount of calcium and other nutrients.
Teach Them to Cooperate
Children will test your patience to see where the limit of what they can get away with is. If they throw a tantrum and you give up, allowing them to leave the table, chances are this behavior will be repeated.
Make things easier by simultaneously introducing new foods you want them to eat with old ones, you may be able to combat this struggle. Children are more inclined to accept new foods if they are “hidden,” so to speak, with their already-favorites.
Make It Fun
If you fight with your child at the dinner table about eating and drinking, they may start to associate eating time with being upset and anxious. This obviously does not create a good base platform for helping them obtain the vitamins and minerals they need.
Instead of forcing them to finish their meals, excuse them from the table –only allowing them to eat at their next scheduled meal time. This also teaches them that they will be hungry if they aren’t eating at proper meal times.
Quick tip: Arrange your child’s food in an exciting way to help them really get excited about eating!
Stick To Routine
It is important that even if your child begs for chips in between meal times after they have not eaten that you do not give in. Offer them healthy fruit and vegetable snack options, or tell them they will have to wait until the next meal time to eat again.
Include Your Child
Your child will begin to develop their own tastes as they age and with that you should allow them to make their only healthy choices. Make it a habit of not buying anything you don’t want your children to eat –even if it’s for yourself. Your children will follow your example.
Let them pick 2-3 things at the grocery store every time you go as an exciting way to include them, helping them to make independent food choices –a valuable skill they will need in the future.
Television, iPads and other technological devices will most likely win your child’s attention at the dinner table. Make it a habit to turn all these things off and put them away before sitting down at the table. Your child will learn that this is protocol and become used to following these directions.