Is your child starting to express (very strong) likes and dislikes when it comes to making food choices? These preferences, though quite common at this age, may start to make mealtime a little trickier. Here’s how to cope with your picky eater.
Include your child in shopping and food prep.
Start by taking your picky eater to the store and letting him choose his favorite vegetables and fruits. At home, bring your preschooler into the kitchen and ask him to help you scoop out watermelon, combine fruits in a big bowl, or arrange veggies into various shapes on his plate. If your child plays a part in preparing his meal, he may be more inclined to taste what’s on his plate.
If you tempt your picky eater with sweets for finishing his vegetables, he may come to expect a reward every time. Or he may become even more resistant to eating whatever he’s being bribed to consume. Instead, concentrate on providing healthful foods at every meal (your job) and let your child manage how much and what he eats (his job).
Set a good example.
To encourage your picky eater to eat and enjoy a variety of healthful foods, make sure you are modeling that behavior with your own eating habits. Let your child see how much you like having fruit and wheat toast for breakfast and eating a salad for lunch. Get her attention by saying how yummy you think certain dishes are, and be sure to be enthusiastic when she wants to help with meal preparation.
If your picky eater is turned off by the sight of omelets or salads, try giving some of her favorite foods a healthy makeover. Including undercover fruits and vegetables is an easy and healthy way to transform any meal. For example, pureed sweet potato can go undetected in a dish of pasta with cheese.
No matter how determined your child is to remain a picky eater, remember to be patient and encouraging. Eventually, this stage will pass and mealtimes will be a lot more fun.