A picky eater, especially a toddler, can turn out to be really frustrating at times. It is probably the ultimate parenting woe! You try your level best but he just won't eat! You've tried stories, you've tried enacting a cartoon character. You've even tried explaining to him the consequences of not eating a healthy diet (seriously??) but he still acts up whenever you take the plate of food near him. Have you ever, instead of trying to force feed him, tried to find out why he's rejecting the food? It might just help in feeding your picky eater. Read ahead for some tips on how to feed a picky eater better.
Why Your Child May Be a Picky Eater
There are some well-researched and well-established reasons why some babies and toddlers refuse to eat certain or all foods. Given below are some of them. They may help you in understanding your picky eater better.
Toddlers are not very open to change at their tender age. Also, they're accustomed to eating just liquid foods till now. So when you introduce them to solid food, they are naturally a little skeptical about it. This is one reason why your kid may act picky.
It may also happen that your kid may genuinely not like the look of a particular food that you're serving him. The color, taste or even the smell may not appeal to him. That is why he refuses to eat it. It is difficult, as a parent, to see him refuse the nutritious food that is necessary for your kid's health, but you must respect that he does not like it, and find different foods that appeal to him.
Some kids may refuse food just for spite. They want to gauge how their parents will react if they do something to agitate them. When they see that they're getting away with it, they'll continue to do it for other things apart from food too.
Some kids are full of energy even if they do not eat much. These kids can sustain themselves for a longer period than other kids without food. So, if your kid is refusing to eat, but still is lively and energetic, then don't worry.
Feeding a Picky Eater
Below is a list of ways in which you can try to coax your toddler to try new foods.
Since toddlers are apprehensive about eating new food, introduce a new food together with a food item that he is already used to. This way, he won't feel like he's being ambushed with strange-looking foods.
Offer interesting-looking meals to your toddler. Present him with an assortment of food items and let him take his pick. You can use a different assortment at each mealtime, like fruits for breakfast, bread with different spreads for lunch, and other similar recipes. This way, by using different recipes, you'll get to know quickly what type of food he prefers and you can plan his meals accordingly.
A toddler cannot eat a lot of food at a single time. So, keep an appropriate time interval between the different meals. Ideally, let your toddler eat two proper meals and include some snacks in between. This will take some pressure off you and your kid, who's already fussing over his food.
Rules are not really the best way to get your toddler to eat his food. Rules like insisting that he finish his meal, eat without making a mess (are you serious?), and forcing him to finish the food even if he doesn't like it, are probably the most unsuccessful ways to get him to eat. Instead, commend him on how much he's eaten, ask him to help you out with spreading the butter or cheese or any other spread on the bread. He'll enjoy it and will realize that eating can be a fun experience too!
Hope this article has shed some light on why and how you can handle your picky eater. If you think your child is not getting proper nourishment and is not growing up at a normal rate, consult his pediatrician at once.