Around two years old, most children will enter a picker phase of eating than their previous habits. As their taste buds develop and they begin to discover their independence, toddlers start to become very picky eaters who can leave their mothers feeling like short order cooks while trying to please them.
Picky eaters can be frustrating for anyone charged with attempting to get a balanced and varied selection of foods into their diet. The pickiness can continue well past toddlerhood as well, leaving parents at a loss. Take on your picky eater with a few tricks and tips to bring him to the table.
Don’t Give In
If your toddler knows that you are going to offer an alternative when he rejects what you have prepared for dinner, he will more likely to hold his ground and refuse to even try what’s on his plate. Your toddler isn’t going to starve himself – if he’s really hungry, he will eat what’s in front of him. Stick to your guns even if it means that your little one goes to bed a bit hungry for a few nights. Eventually he will realize that you aren’t going to bow to his picky eating ways anymore, and will start eating what is offered.
This is a very difficult task for most parents, who can’t stand the thought of their child going to bed without a good meal in his tummy. However, if you continue to give in and provide an alternate meal, you will encourage him to continue demanding something else and leave you cooking several meals to please everyone. It isn’t easy, but it will teach your child a valuable lesson.
There is Room for Compromise
Even with your stance on no longer playing the short order cook for your toddler, you can still make some concessions to provide meals she is more likely to find appetizing. Before you prepare dinner, talk to your toddler about what she would like to eat. The answer might consistently be “macaroni and cheese”, but there are even ways to work with that. Try serving a baked casserole of cauliflower and cheese or mixing a vegetable in with a homemade batch of macaroni and cheese for a healthier version than what comes from a box. You can also serve the requested food as a side dish. Once your toddler starts eating, she will be more likely to move on to the other foods on her plate after she has satisfied her craving for the cheesy stuff. It won’t always work, but at least it will get her to the table and eating without demanding something else.
Casseroles are a good option for picky eaters because they combine healthier foods with the ones toddlers love, such as pasta and cheese. Mix one up in a tomato sauce and she might not even notice the vegetables.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with a picky eater is to keep offering healthy foods. If you remove those foods from the menu, you encourage the picky eating habits to continue and set your child up for a lifetime of poor nutrition.
By finding some common ground but continuing to offer a balanced children diet, you give your child the message that healthy eating is important to you and you aren’t going to give up. Even if it takes her a long time to give those foods a try, at least you will know you didn’t give up, or give in.