The last month or so, both Finlee and Chloe have been pushing the boundaries with food. Not wanting to eat or only wanting to eat unhealthy food. I’m not sure what it is but what I do know is that after a long day, the last thing I want to do is start World War III over cooked carrot. Needless to say, I’ve come up with a plan (aka my 9 tips for picky eaters) that’s been helping me to get Finlee and Chloe eating better again.
9 Tips for Picky Eaters
I’ve popped together my 9 tips for picky eaters and I hope some of these tips will help you and your picky eater to go on a new journey with food.
Tip 1 – Relax
Having a picky eater in the family isn’t the easiest of things for parents and believe it or not most parents have to deal with this at some stage, so you’re not alone. Try not to stress too much about it because the more stressed you are about this situation the more likely your child will pick up on this. The best thing to do is relax and remember this too shall pass.
Tip 2 – Plan Together
What I’ve found with Finlee and Chloe is it works best if I include them in the entire process. Every Tuesday night we get the weekly catalogues from Coles, Woolworth and Aldi in our letterbox and we review these as a family while we eat our dinner. We talk about the different foods, what we might like to try new for the upcoming week and at the end of our conversation we have our weekly menu plan done.
Tip 3 – Have Healthy Foods Available
My husband and I have gotten into the habit of giving the kids unhealthy snack options that have had little nutritional value and we knew we had to change this. We also identified that these bad snack choices could be contributing to Finlee and Chloe being picky eaters at lunch and dinner.
To create a new routine, we’ve been cutting up a variety of fruits and vegetables and popping them into easily assessable containers so when the kids are hungry that’s our go to option. In addition, we make a variety of simple fingers sandwiches (Vegemite, Jam, Ham and Cheese) with Tip Top The One Mixed Grains Bread. The benefits of this bread are great because it’s packed with nutritional goodness such as:
- Contains 4 whole grains (wheat, oats, corn and rice)
- 2 slices = 1/3 of your daily target of whole grains
- High in fibre, vitamins and minerals
- Health star rating 4
- Not to mention, Tip Top asked kids to pick the grains for this bread, so we know that your kids will love the bread too
Tip 4 – Preparation – Let the Kids Help
As adults, we want to control things, get things done to move onto the next task. However, I can’t emphasise enough that if you have a picky eater, it’s important to slow down and include them in the process. The research shows that kids are more likely to eat something they have helped make, so I like to give Finlee and Chloe different jobs related to their age when it comes to meal preparation. Some of the things I have them get involved with are; shredding the carrots, cutting the cucumbers or getting the Tip Top The One Mixed Grains Bread from the cupboard. By having Finlee and Chloe involved it means they feel a sense of ownership over the meal, and are more likely to eat it.
Tip 5 – Make Food Fun
I know some of you will be thinking “nobody has time for this” but I promise you if you go the extra steps it might be just what your little one needs to not be such a picky eater. Things that my husband and I do to make food fun are: we let the kids choose which cookie cutter they would like for their sandwich, we also let the kids use toothpicks to pick up their food vs a fork (also great for fine motor skills), we like to also put all the food out on a platter and then let the kids choose what they’d like to put on their plate. I’m not saying we do this every meal, but at least a few times a week. And you know what? The nights we do bring more fun to the table both kids eat better.
Tip 6 – Eat Together as a Family
I know this tip might sound simple however there is an increasing number of families who don’t eat together or they do eat together but it’s in front of the TV. So, shut the TV off, put the phones away and eat together as a family. Talk about your day, talk about the flavours of the food and this together approach will help in more ways than one.
Tip 7 – Same Meal for Entire Family
It’s super important to serve the same meal for the entire family. This allows for consistency and setting boundaries. If you start creating different meals then what you’re doing is contributing to the picky eater and saying it’s ok that they’re a picky eater because you’ll make them different foods than everyone else.
Tip 8 – Time Limit for Every Meal
Anyone who has a picky eater in the family knows that meal times aren’t always fun and games. Therefore, I encourage you to have a time limit for 20 minutes for every meal. When the 20 minutes is up, simply take the food away and remind your child that there will be no food until the next snack or meal time. It’s super important that you do not give your child food until the next planned snack or meal. I promise you they will not starve, offer them water and then carry on doing what you’re doing.
Tip 9 – Patience is Key
Picky eaters can come at different stages of life and it’s important to remember that getting kids to like new foods can take a while. Some kids may not like the look of the food, the texture of the food or even the smell of the food and it could take up to 15 encounters before a child may taste it. Just be consistent and keep introducing them to the food, while at the same time being patient.
Having a picky eater in the family can be challenging, but the good news is, getting a picky eater to eat a nutritious meal doesn’t have to be a battle if you follow some or all of my 9 tips for picky eaters; especially if you include Tip Top The One Mixed Grains into your meal plan (you can grab a loaf at Coles or Woolworths).
And remember, this too shall pass.
From one parent to another, you’ve got this.
This was a collaboration between Finlee and Me and Tip Top The One Mixed Grains Bread.
Angela is an author, entrepreneur, business consultant, blogger, mental health clinician and most importantly a mother. She explores various topics related to parenting/children on her blog and also in her three books: 30 Days, 30 Ways for Mothers to Take Care of Themselves, 30 Days, 30 Ways for Connecting with Your Child and Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids.