A lot of children go through a phase of fussy eating at some point in their development. It’s normal and common, but that doesn’t make it any easier on busy parents who just want their kids to get a healthy meal. If your child is showing signs of fussy eating, it’s essential to stay calm and not show your concern to them. Instead, try the following tips to see if you can’t get them to broaden their culinary horizons. There are plenty of healthy kids meals designed for picky eaters, so don’t worry, you’ll get through this!
Reward Them For Eating New Foods
Instead of showing frustration when your child refuses to eat, stick to positive affirmations whenever they do. You want to keep your child from feeling as if the dinner table is a negative space and to do this, you have to be calm and positive even on the days when they refuse to eat. When your child does eat, give them a sticker that they can put on a calendar that tracks their eating or offer another type of reward. This type of positive reinforcement may be enough motivation for your child to grow out of their fussy eating.
Only Keep Healthy Foods in the House
Even when your child refuses to eat, you still know they are hungry. Eventually, they will want to eat something and it’s important that what’s on hand is not junk. Keep healthy snacks like fruit and carrot sticks within reach and hide the cookies on the top shelf where they can’t see them. Where possible, sneak veggies into their food, like a healthy carrot muffin.
Make Healthy Swaps of Their Favorites
You know your child likes chicken fingers, but you’re afraid they don’t carry enough nutritional value when they come out of a fast food box. The solution is simple: make your own homemade chicken fingers in a more healthy way. Instead of a bread crumb layer, try a ground almond coating. Make your own healthy ketchup rather than the store bought variety. As a side, try serving homemade baked sweet potato fries rather than regular fries. Or, offer homemade sugar-free applesauce, which is generally adored by kids.
Get Your Kids Excited About Food
Changing your child’s mindset around food is the first step in getting them to move on from fussy eating. Watch fun cooking and baking shows and movies together, like Ratatouille and The Great British Bake Off. Take your child grocery shopping and let them pick out some foods they like. Spend an afternoon at a local farm to see where food is grown or take them apple picking at an orchard in the fall. Let them make decisions in the kitchen about what to cook and then have them help gather ingredients.
For many kids, fussy eating is a temporary phase that they will eventually grow out of. For some, they may have lifelong picky habits. Helping them as much as possible will set good guidelines for their relationship with food going forward, which is why it’s important to expose them to as many foods as possible at a young age. Don’t give up, there’s nothing more satisfying than a peaceful, no-tantrum mealtime!