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Respect your child’s appetite -
or lack of one
If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise,
don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her
plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over
food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with
anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming
your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask
for more.
Stick to the routine
Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. Provide
juice or milk with the food, and offer water between meals and
snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice or milk throughout the
day might decrease his or her appetite for meals.
Be patient with new foods
Young children often touch or smell new foods, and may even put
tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your
child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she
takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s
color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve
new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.
Make it fun
Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut
foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods
for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.
Recruit your child’s help
At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits,
vegetables and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t
want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you
rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.
Set a good example
If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is
more likely to follow suit.
Be creative
Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to
spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices, or
mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles
and soups.
Minimize distractions
Turn off the television and other electronic
gadgets during meals. This will help your child
focus on eating. Keep in mind that television
advertising might also encourage your child to
desire sugary foods.
Don’t offer dessert as a reward
Withholding dessert sends the message that
dessert is the best food, which might only
increase your child’s desire for sweets. You
might select one or two nights a week as dessert
nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or
redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy
Don’t be a short-order cook
Preparing a separate meal for your child after
he or she rejects the original meal might
promote picky eating. Encourage your child to
stay at the table for the designated mealtime —
even if he or she doesn’t eat. Keep serving your
child healthy choices until they become familiar
and preferred.
If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, consult your
child’s doctor. In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days.
The big picture might help ease your worries. A food log can also help your child’s doctor determine any
problems. In the meantime, remember that your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight - but the
small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Has your preschooler refused to eat anything
other than chicken nuggets for the past two
days? Or would your toddler rather play than
eat anything at all?
If children’s nutrition is a sore topic in your
household, you’re not alone. Many parents
worry about what their children eat — and
don’t eat. However, most kids get plenty of
variety and nutrition in their diets over the
course of a week. Until your child’s food
preferences mature, consider these tips for
preventing mealtime battles.
July/Aug 2013