Every child goes through a picky eating phase, whether it be in their toddler years, when they are a bit older or even both! This can be incredibly frustrating and demotivating but remember its incredibly normal. There are so many interesting things happening around them so, more often than not, eating is low on their list of exciting things to do.
Here are a few ways to make the experience easier for all of you:
1. Try and Reduce Distractions Around them
Loud noises can create a lot of distractions for your children. So make sure to turn off the tv, radio and pause any loud conversations. Try your best to keep the environment quiet and calm.
2. Make the Foods fun
Try and create the foods in interesting shapes and colours. For example, using a cookie cutter for sandwiches, making a snowman out of mashed potato or creating a smiley face on the plate with their food.
3. Include them in the Cooking Process
Kids love to play games. So often when they can play 'little chef' and help with a little bit of the cooking process, even if its just helping put their food on their plate, they are a lot more interested in eating their food. It is their own creation after all!
4. Try not to Force them to eat their food
If they are being fussy about their food, try to ignore it as best as you can. If they receive a lot of attention for refusing to eat they will often keep behaving this way.
5. Don't Punish them for not Eating
You don't want meal times to turn into a negative thing. If they refuse to eat just say 'okay we will try again next time when you are hungry'. This does not mean that they can be rewarded with their favourite food or dessert instead. They just have to wait until next meal time and try their food again.
6. Set a time Limit for Eating
Allow about 20 minutes for your child to eat their food. If they have not eaten within this time, take the food away and don't offer them any more food. They can wait until the next planned snack time or meal time.
7. Reintroduce Foods
Keep in mind that it often takes 10 - 15 re introductions of a new food before they will eat it. So keep offering previously refused foods. Once they see it on their plate for the 10th time they will more than likely try to eat it.
Just remember, don't be disheartened if you have a fussy eater. Children's appetites will always change throughout their growth cycle and, particularly between the ages of 1 and 6, it is very common for children to be hungry one day and then picky the next!