A toddler throwing a piece of carrot on the floor. A child throwing tantrums because they hate the taste of squash. We’ve all been there. We’ve seen it. These scenes are familiar to any parent raising picky eaters.
The importance of good nutrition in kids cannot be overemphasized. Your child’s nutrient intake plays an important role not only in their learning ability but in their overall growth and development.
The problem is that young kids are picky. Picky-eating is like a habit they’re naturally born with. When babies turn 2 to 3 years old, they begin to develop food preferences. That’s when it becomes harder and harder to make them finish their meals, let alone eat healthy food.
But don’t worry. Ensuring your child’s nutrition doesn’t always have to be frustrating. Read on and learn some helpful tips to make your picky eaters eat healthy.
Respect your child’s appetite
One of the reasons behind the power struggle over food is that parents force their children to eat or finish their meals even if they’re not actually hungry.
Don’t force it if they don’t feel like eating. Allow them to take cues from their body and rely on hunger to guide them. If they had eaten a heavy meal at breakfast, they may not feel hungry enough to eat a lot during lunch.
Reprimanding your child or punishing them for not cleaning their plate might do more harm than good. Learn how to respect their appetite. Start by giving them small portions of food and if they still feel hungry, trust that they’ll ask for more.
Eat as a family
Sharing meals together as a family should be a priority. No matter how busy you are, make it a point to share at least one meal with your kids. If you can’t have lunch together, eat dinner together.
Not only is this an excellent time for you to bond with the whole family and share fun stories about your day; it also offers a perfect opportunity for you to model healthy eating. Your child is most likely going to follow suit if you eat a wide array of healthy foods.
Serve one meal for everyone and do not give in to your child’s demands if they don’t like what they’re served. Whether they eat it or not, you need to make sure that they are provided with a balanced meal.
Make healthy eating more fun
Going out of your way to inject a little creativity into how you serve vegetables won’t hurt. Arrange them in interesting and eye-catching ways by cutting them into fun shapes. You can also serve them with their favorite sauce or dip.
Also, be sure the foods you serve are bite-sized and small enough for them to chew and avoid choking.
Avoid bribing or offering rewards
Let’s admit it. It’s a lot easier to lure kids into eating their veggies and finishing their meals if we offer rewards.
Rewards or prizes in the form of dessert, sweets, or something they can’t resist can come in handy in desperate times. But take note that doing this will only do more harm than good. This would make them look forward to eating the dessert or the “reward” instead of the food they’re served.
Get them involved
Take your meal planning up a notch and make healthy eating more interesting for your little one by getting them involved.
Bring them along when you do your grocery shopping. Let them select which fruits and vegetables they want to have during upcoming meals. This way, you can make sure they’ll eat what is served. Better yet, ask them to help with the cooking and meal preparations, too. It will make mealtime something they’d look forward to even more!
Correcting your child’s eating habits and encouraging them to eat healthier can be quite a challenge. But don’t give up. Use these tips to help your picky eater make healthier food choices and ensure their good nutrition.
For more parenting tips, or if you’re looking for the best preschool for your little one, please feel free to visit Imagine Nation Learning Center.