Is Your Child a Member of the Picky Eaters Club? There is Help!!
Authored by: Kim Morrow, Developmental Specialist
Transitioning to solids is a big step for your toddler. They begin to explore textures and new tastes and often when exploring the first time, you may see it come out of your child’s mouth as quickly as it went in. A child’s eating habits are a pretty typical concern of parents. As a child grows making their own choices on what to eat is one of the ways they begin to assert their independence.
Can Early Intervention Help with Picky Eaters?
At teli through our Early Intervention services, our staff gives families the tools and ideas to help the opinionated eater not become a problem eater. The following steps will help your child explore new foods to ensure a nutritious and varied diet to support their continue growth. Just remember encouragement and patience are the most effective way to be successful in coaxing your child to try something new!
1) One Step at a Time
When introducing an unfamiliar food it is important to offer it with a familiar food. You may need to present a single new food 10-15 times before your child may accept that new food. They are adjusting to that new food and adjusting to the food taste, smell, and texture —so patience is essential.
2) Meal Routines are Very Important
Children are often most comfortable when routines are followed. Be sure to establish routine meal times and expectations. These should include 3 meals and 1-2 nutritious snacks per day and a regular location to gather for a meal. Remember mealtimes are an opportunity for family communication and socialization.
3) Snacking with Care
Be aware of the nature and frequency of snacks. Snacks are an important part of the meal routine but allowing your child to “graze” through the afternoon may result in a less than interested eater at dinner time. Also be mindful of the impact that liquids have on a child’s appetite. Juice and milk consumed prior to a meal can also make a child feel “full”.
4) Involve Them in the Process
Involving your child in the process of meal preparation can help them to feel more ownership. Have them help you to select a new vegetable or fruit while grocery shopping. Introduce a new food into a fun arts and crafts project as a way to explore colors, textures and shapes. Create a broccoli forest with a river of ranch dressing for dipping or a game out of how many green bean “logs” they can stack as a way to get comfortable with a new food.
5) Consider Creative Themes
Introduce “Green Week” that translates to not only the new food you would like them to try, but their clothes and their art projects, etc. Have them select a new “green” food to add to their sandwich and have them use a cookie cutter to create a specially shaped sandwich. Give foods fun names like “X-ray carrots” or “Silly Sandwich time”. A “Smoothie Saturday” is a particular favorite when a child can add foods to the blender and transform them with the push of a button.
6) Change in Location
Reinventing a mealtime through a change in location or surroundings can be a great way to have fun with your child. No matter the weather outside, a blanket on the family room floor, paper plates and cups to serve the foods they have helped you prepare is a nice alternative that enable them to experience a new perspective on unfamiliar foods.
7) Invite a Friend
Invite a food adventurous friend to dinner! No one influences a child more than their friends. If they see a friend sampling broccoli or a mango slice, they may be more apt to give it a try.
Is your child not just a “picky eater “?
So you have tried these tactics and your child is still having issues? In some cases you may require the support of your pediatrician and Early Intervention services, such as those provided by teli’s staff of Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Developmental Specialist.
Some of the behaviors that indicate there may be other concerns include:
- weight loss or signs of nutritional deficiencies
- difficulty moving food around in their mouth to swallow
- gagging or vomiting with new or disliked food
- extreme behaviors over extended periods of time such as tantrums, crying uncontrollably surrounding mealtimes
Learn more about Early Intervention and how teli can help!