Get Picky Eaters to Clean Their Plates

By: Megan Wallgren

Just about every child goes through the picky eater stage. Toddlers especially can frustrate parents by limiting their diet to one or two favorite foods. A child’s aversion to some foods and a parent’s desire to provide good child nutrition can turn the dinner table into a battle zone.
Good nutrition for kids can be easier. While no one really knows why some kids are such picky eaters, one likely reason is that the sameness is reassuring. Parents can take comfort in the fact that, with age, picky eaters always grow to become more food tolerant.
While parents might think picky eaters are not getting the nutrients they need, if the child is growing normally, she is getting enough calories. Children will naturally crave the nutrients they need. So, while most children do not eat a balanced diet each and every day, over the course of a week or so their diet will usually be well balanced. You can consider giving your child a daily vitamin if you think he is not eating well.
Every parent wants their child to eat good foods, but it’s important to avoid a battle of the wills, your toddler will always win. These tips will help you get your child to eat better, without the drama.

Keep it in the Kitchen

If your child tends to wander off during mealtime, limit eating and drinking to the table or high chair throughout the day. This will give him the signal that eating requires your full attention. Kids eat less when they are distracted by other things. Parents are also more likely to serve their children healthy food, if they’re sitting down at the table, instead of giving them a bag of chips in front of the TV.
You should also not prepare more than one meal for your children. If a child doesn’t want to eat what was prepared for the rest of the family, then he should not be forced to, but you should also not give him something else to eat. He will not starve after missing a single meal, and providing alternatives to the prepared meal will just cause more problems later.
While you should provide three well-balanced meals each day, it is important to keep in mind that most younger children will only eat one or two full meals each day. If your toddler has had a good breakfast and lunch, then it is okay that he doesn’t want to eat much at dinner.

Make snack-time count

Limit snacks to two nutritious snacks per day. Usually, one in the mid-morning and one in the late afternoon.
It is a mistake to let such picky eaters fill up on empty calories in snack foods or soda pop. Instead, have readily available snacks in the form of fruits, raw veggies, small sandwiches, etc. Take advantage of those rare moments when your child actually feels like eating something and make it nutritious.
Keep junk food out of your house so that when your child is hungry, his only choices are healthful foods. If a child is hungry enough, he’ll forgo the cookies in favor of the carrot sticks.

Keep introducing new foods

Not everyone – including adults – likes broccoli, but there will be other vegetables your child will like. If your child doesn’t like a certain food, look to find its nutritional equivalent. If kids won’t drink milk, try yogurt or cheese.
Kids don’t like to try something new, but after she’s seen it on her plate several times, she’ll be more likely to take a bite. Also, as a child grows older her tastes will expand and something she didn’t like before may become a favorite.

Set a good example

Little Mike or Mary wants to be just like Mom and Dad. If you don’t eat healthy foods, neither will they. Getting your kids to eat their vegetables may mean eating them yourself. If you talk up a food, it will help your kids want to try it.

Involve your children

Kids are more likely to eat something they’ve helped make. Let your toddler help you put apples in a bag at the grocery store. Older kids can help grow and harvest a garden, or help in preparing the food. Being involved in the selection and preparing of meals can give your child a sense of control and ownership over his eating habits.
Some cookbooks have fun and easy to make dishes. Sometimes an interesting and fun presentation of foods will do the trick. Kids love foods that are assembled more like an art project than a meal. Turn pancakes into smiley faces or celery sticks into pirate ships.

For more tips on avoiding mealtime battles with picky eaters, visit she knows .

For children nutrition resource visit the kids food pyramid .