The Great Picky Eater Food Battle is not for the faint of heart.
Lately, my two year old refuses to eat pretty much everything. Unless it is peanut butter, cheese, yogurt or her favorite fruits. She also likes ham, so regardless of what kind of meat I’m serving, I exclaim, “Eat! You like this; it’s ham!”. Sometimes, it even works! 😉
My picky eater refuses foods that aren’t aesthetically pleasing….
She turns up her nose at unfamiliar foods (unless they’re highly processed and full of artificial flavors)….
My toddler has even looked at her dinner plate and remarked, “Bleh!”. How rude! …
No matter how much I bribe her, or threaten time-outs, she Will. Not. Eat. She clenches her lips together, covers her mouth with her hand, and turns as far away from me as possible. And I know I have no course of action that doesn’t include handcuffs, straps, and pliers.
So what to do? I am a strict mom, but even I don’t believe in prying my daughter’s mouth open to shove food in it. 😉
Everyone says, “They’ll eat when they’re hungry!”. But what parent can stand there and watch their child starve nutritionally? While their child simultaneously grows unbearably crabby because, like their mama, they get HANGRY when they don’t eat.
Today, I am going to share what is helping us through this challenging time!
My mealtime tips for dealing with a picky eater –
- Serve several foods your child WILL EAT and one new food.
- Serve small portions to avoid waste, frustration, or child getting overwhelmed at the sight of new food.
- Encourage your child to try at least one bite.
- Promise they don’t have to finish new food, or even swallow it. (My kids are big fans of spitting yucky foods in the trash after holding it their mouth for eons.)
- If child still refuses to try even one bite, threaten to take away a privilege. For us, that’s tv time, which we often allow after dinner and before bed.
- Follow through. No bite, no privilege.
- Don’t get mad. Stay calm. Act like it’s no biggie if your kid is iron deficient because she refuses to eat her spinach.
- Put cheese on it! My kids favorite food group – everything looks and tastes better with cheese!
- Serve new foods at lunch, and familiar favorites at dinner. Your kids will have a full belly for bedtime and sleep soundly.
- If kids don’t eat much of their lunch, don’t give them a snack. Or give them a small, but healthy snack to tide them over. NO TREATS! Go ahead, break out your secret stash of chocolate and eat it right in front of them. You deserve it for preparing food they didn’t want and washing a plate they wouldn’t eat off.
- Keep trying!
Our greatest success recently has been simply getting the food into my 2.5 year old daughter’s mouth. Whether or not she likes it, or will even swallow the food, at least she is opening her mouth! We accomplished this mainly by threatening a consequence (revoking tv privileges after dinner) and promising she can spit the offensive food in the trash if she so desires.
I trust that in time, her delicate palate will broaden itself from the repeated exposure to new flavors and textures. And if it doesn’t well…there’s always those sneaky veg recipes on Pinterest.