Picky Eaters: What Can Parents Do? Author: Ashleigh Nalty MAC | PLPC
Are you a parent that struggles with a child who is a picky eater? This blog is for you! As a hypnotherapist, I have worked with children who are picky eaters and I have learned some concrete steps on how parents can assist with helping picky eaters try and enjoy new foods.
First thing is first. Start by slowly introducing new foods to your child. An introduction can look as simple as having the new food (let’s say a vegetable) on the table at dinner. At this point, the child does not necessarily have to eat it, but they see you eating it. The next day or so, ask your child to try a tiny piece or a small bite of the new food. From this point, slowly build up how much they eat of this new food. This step will take some time and effort on the parents part. On the other hand, children's taste, palette and appetite change rapidly as they grow so just because your child denies the food at first, it doesn’t mean that they won't grow to love the new food(s). Also, it is said that children will have to try new foods a number of times to determine whether they like it. Refrain from giving up if your child does not like the food at first and keep in mind that your child may actually like it eventually.
Involving your child in the kitchen can also encourage him or her to expand their palette. Most children enjoy being a part of baking desserts and sweets however, involving your child in the day to day activities in the kitchen (such as the preparation and cooking) allows them to familiarize themselves with different foods. This will also allow them to be exposed to a variety of foods and encourage them to nibble here and there on new foods.
At a tender age, many children will begin to exert signs of independence by trying to control some elements of their lives. Unfortunately, many elements are out of their control however, when it comes to food choices, children often have some control over what they choose to eat or not eat. One way to counteract this is by giving children choices. For example, encouraging children to choose 1-2 vegetables, fruits, or any other healthy choice with their meal. This provides children with the gratification of being in control and having options to choose from.
Another way to encourage a picky eater is by making mealtime fun for children. Using fun plates that are colorful or with patterns can make meals look more appealing for children. Moreover, for children who are particular about their food(s) touching, using plates with dividers can also encourage them to finish meals and try foods from each section. Another idea is for parents to use dividers for snack time. The dividers can include all healthy choices and one choice for a treat. For example, having fruits and veggies on the divider with one spot for a treat.
Lastly, parents should not be afraid of hiding veggies in meals. Many parents struggle with encouraging their children to eat vegetables on a regular basis. Hiding veggies in sauces, sandwiches, soups, or in the preparation of a meal can help children get the nutrients they need in order to be healthy and strong.
Ultimately, parents want their children to be healthy and strong and sometimes it can be challenging with picky eaters. Parents are encouraged to never give up and to continue to find ways to make eating fun. Reach out to me today to learn how hypnotherapy can help your child eat healthy and enjoy new foods in a short amount of time.