I am often told, “my child used to be such a good eater and now she wants to eat the same foods every day.” It is frustrating and stressful to hear your child request the same food day after day. You dread mealtime rather than viewing it as an enjoyable time of reconnection. (Who am I kidding, even with “good” eaters, mealtimes with young kids are rarely relaxing.) When your child has a small repertoire of foods, you worry that she will not get the proper nutrition to grow and learn. Our worth as parents sometimes feels like it is defined by a “good meal.”
Strategies for dealing with picky eating:
1. Think about changing things up at mealtime.
2. Add books about food into your library!!!
The picky eater stage is in full force in the toddler and preschool years…along with many other challenges! Luckily, it’s also the stage where language and some early reasoning skills are developing. Use your child’s new skills to your advantage and do some teaching about foods away from the table. When the expectation to eat is absent, everyone is less stressed. Kids have the ability to learn more about the how the body works and why we need to eat.
You can also check out these colouring pages for the closer to 4 – 5 year old crowd.
Talk about the importance of a well balanced diet from a nutrition standpoint. Of course, do so in a developmentally appropriate manner. A 2.5 year old with 80 words may not benefit from information about minerals and nutrients. She will understand that food can make her strong though!
I recognized the power of this strategy the other morning at my house. My girls saw a picture of a bowl of peas and thus asked for peas for breakfast. This has never happened before. Luckily, I had a bag of peas in the freezer…. they each had 2 little bowls of peas for breakfast. The power of visual input combined with throwing out the traditional food choices for breakfast! A success…
Try it out… talk about the importance of food away from the table and see what happens.