When dinnertime comes around more often than not parents of young children have a battle on their hands. As many young children are picky eaters, or only want to eat what they want at that time, trying to get your child to eat new foods, or healthier options may be difficult. This doesn’t have to be the case!
Coordinate With Your Child’s Appetite
The schedule that your body is on as a parent may or may not be the same as that of your young child. Figure out at which time of day they are ready to eat a meal and adjust mealtime for when they are ready to eat. At that point your child will eat, or still may refuse. If they refuse to eat try to skip snacks. Inform your child that their meal is on the table if they are hungry and try to stop yourself from falling into the snack trap. Refrain from having snack time close to a meal, and try to get a daily snack/meal routine together for your child. This will help them know what is coming next
Reintroduce Different Foods
Last week you may have discovered that little Johnny didn’t like his peas. He may have spit them out, made funny faces, or did something else that was a clear giveaway he did not like the peas. This doesn’t mean he did not like the taste. Although that could be the reason, the texture may have also played a role in his dissatisfaction. Try to get your child to take just one bite of the food he or she does not like before getting up from the table. Re-introduce your child to the food again at a later time. Holly Paulz, a physician assistant says “Introducing new foods is like any new experience- it may take up to 10 introductions to a specific food before a child is comfortable with it”.
Make Food Fun
Changing the way food looks can entice your child to want to eat or even just try it. For example, cut a sandwich into stars, make or cut fruits or vegetables into shapes, or even give them a sauce to dip it in. Bring your child in on the fun of deciding what is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, ensuring that it is within reason, and allow them to help set the table or prepare the dish.
Although each child is different with their eating habits, what they like, or what they don’t like, it is important for parents to set a healthy example and try to get their child on a healthy diet. Don’t give up on your child’s eating habits! Eventually they will regulate and the “food wars” will be over!