They ate it yesterday. But not today. It looked different, had a different texture, smelled different or they plain just had ZERO reason why they are refusing to eat.
The definition of picky eating is a child (or adult) that has a very select number of foods they will eat and often refuses new or different foods. Generally “picky eating” starts around 18 months and tapers by age 6, but I’ve seen it go MUCH longer than that and actually lead to pickiness in adolescence and adulthood. Picky eating recipes can also help incorporate new foods in a safe way! Check out some of my favs at the end of this article.
Here are my top five strategies to decrease picky eating:
No pressure. No bribes, no begging, no pleading. Not even praise. Mind. Your. Own. Plate. Let them choose which foods (from those you provide) that they eat.
Serve the same food you are eating to your kids. Quinoa salad? Beef stroganoff? Poached salmon? Yes. Yes. Yes. When we think of picky eating toddler recipes these definitely don’t come to mind but remember that “food exposures” are key to helping kids learn to accept new foods. Even if they don’t touch it. They will see you eating it and enjoying it. It could take 15-25 exposures before kids even try a food.
Serve one preferred (otherwise known as “safe”) food with every meal. It could be blueberries. It could be mashed potatoes. Just choose one of these foods and add it to the meal, even if it seems strange. I also encourage you to serve all meals with bread and milk. If all else fails they can eat these foods and not go hungry.
Allow them to spit out food. Yes, it is gross. Give them a napkin for discrete spitting. But this is actually normal and part of the process to learn to like new foods. Feeling safe that they can taste and spit (if necessary) will help them feel confident that they never are forced to swallow anything. Should you serve the offending food again? Absolutely! You never know, this time it may just go down the hatch!
Be patient! If you need more support to help your child learn to love all foods, set up a free consult today!