Ah the picky eater.
---Surviving mainly on mac n’ cheese, chicken nuggets, baby carrots and PB&J sandwiches (with the crust cut off of course), it really is a wonder that they have no apparent vitamin deficiencies and are seemingly in great health. It goes without say that the picky eater can lead to a little bit of stress and frustration around the dinner table.
But don’t you fret: it is so so normal for children to be at least somewhat picky. In fact, a study has shown that children need to be offered a new kind of food as much as 10 to 15 times before they actually eat it.
Lucky for you, we have gathered 6 tricks that I have sworn by in the past to make the picky eater, well, less-picky (I can’t guarantee miracles however, it took me 8 months to get my daughter to try a pickle).
BONUS: none of these tricks involve you making separate, special meals for your child every night, nor do they include you forcing food on your child.
By giving your child a little bit of decisional power (as in allowing her to place the turkey here and the peas there), she may just want to eat it! You can even let her serve herself if she would like (making sure she takes at least a little bit of everything) - or if her hands are too small, simply place yours over hers to help a little bit.
2) Recruit your child's help
When you go grocery shopping, ask your child to help you pick our fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. If you’d like, you can even have a weekly “taste test” challenge: buy one fruit or vegetable together that your child doesn’t know very well. Because he picked it, he will be more inclined to at least taste it.
At home, encourage your child to help you rinse vegetables, set the table, stir the dinner. It will furthermore entice them to try something since he will feel like he contributed.
3) Hide vegetables in unsuspecting places
I’m not talking about putting broccoli in a glass of milk. I’m talking about delicious meals your child WILL eat. He will be eating his veggies without knowing and you’ll be able to say “Well, now you like zucchinis”. It’s great.
My favorite go to recipe is healthy zucchini brownies like Well Plated’s version. You can find it here; http://www.wellplated.com/zucchini-brownies/
4) Serve new food alongside familiar food
When trying to introduce a new food, serve it along food that you know your child likes. And serve it in small quantities. It may seem ridiculous, but your child will definitely try ONE pea over a spoonful. The next time around, maybe add a few more peas.
Because it is served next to something your child likes, it won’t feel like a struggle as much.
5) Play with food!
Just not the way you think. Serve broccoli or other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce; cut food into various shapes with cookie cutters; offer breakfast foods for dinner; add food coloring to mashed potatoes if it helps!
Because eating will be a kind of game, your child might be more inclined to try it.
6) Try-Something-New Tuesdays
Once a week (I really like Tuesdays, simply because nothing interesting usually happens on a Tuesday), play a game with your child. Set out 3 small plates, each containing a new food (a vegetable, a slice of meat, a sandwich WITHOUT THE CRUST *gasps*). The only rule? Your child must choose one of the foods and try it. Because she is the one who decided what to pick, she will most likely give it a try (even if she doesn’t end up liking it). This has worked wonders with my son!
Most children get over being picky by the time they reach school age (it helps that other kids will be eating things that are different from them and liking it!). In the meantime, praise your child for what they are doing right and don’t make a big deal about picky behavior (the more you give attention to it, the more it will happen!). And I promise, it will turn out ok :)