How many of us have that one picky eater in the house? You know the one that refuses to eat what’s in front of them at mealtimes? Yep, most of us have at least one that is like that. And if you don’t then MAN.. Im envious of you lol! But seriously feeding picky kids is not a fun job and can definitely make parenting that bit more challenging.
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Right from an early age when infants are just starting to experience new tastes and textures, it can be a task just getting them to try new foods.
Experiencing The Picky Eater
When my son was small and starting on solids, I thought I had hit the jackpot. He was the best little eater I had ever experienced. In all the years I had been in childcare, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was. I actually had a child who loved to eat and was willing to try new foods without any challenges.
I always told myself, being from a long line of good eaters in my family (with the exception of 1 or 2) that my children would never be picky when it came to food. Right from the get go, my kids would be great eaters! Boy was I wrong on that score lol!
Along comes my daughter.. and well I think you guessed the next part! She may be the best sleeper that Ive ever experienced but when it comes to eating she definitely isn’t the greatest. So if you do have a picky eater, then I most certainly feel your pain!
When your baby gets to around 4 months old you may start to introduce them to solids. Things like apple sauce and mashed carrots and squash. If you are lucky enough to have a baby who has always been able to take milk without any issues then starting solids should be a fun experience.
However not everyone is so fortunate. If your infant has always been sensitive to certain things when you are nursing, it can be a different experience when they start to eat solids. And this is a whole different ball game to just being a picky eater.
There are lots of helpful books out there with advice on what to eat when nursing and how to eventually get certain foods into your babies diet. After all a happy baby makes a happy mummy right?
Recognizing The Signs
Of course when they are only a few months old and only just experiencing new tastes, most babies will eat what you feed them, unless like mentioned before, they have sensitive tummies. Sometimes seeking the advice from a GP will help you to stay on track with feeding baby.
So when you do start to feed that picky child, how do you know that they are picky? It is more likely to be closer to a year old when your child is refusing to eat. When they are small and cannot communicate to you that they don’t want something they will do it in other ways.
- They may show signs of not wanting to eat by turning their head away when you try to spoon feed them.
- They might start spitting it out or even cry and push the spoon away.
- If your child really doesn’t want to eat when you are feeding them they are definitely trying to tell you something.
Feeding picky kids can be like pulling teeth sometimes and when all you want to do is feed your child and they are refusing it can be very exhausting. However there are ways around feeding your picky eaters as they get older and you do learn to stress a little less about it. I promise!!
Of course you want your child to be healthy and have a varied diet. You also want them to try things and become a bit more adventurous. My 4 year old has never been adventurous with food. She likes what she likes and she will only try things on her terms.
Here are a few tips & tricks on how to feed that picky child;
Always introduce new foods gradually. Even as infants new foods have to be introduced slowly. By this I mean one new food at a time. Your child has a plate full of food items that they like to eat. Place one new food item on their plate that they have never tried. It is good to see what they actually like and dislike. But also slowly introducing foods is vital when testing for allergies.
Reward with something they love to eat. Although some doctors may advise you against this I find it helps as incentive when getting kids to ‘try’ a new food. Even something healthy such as a yoghurt can be enough to encourage them.
Have your child help to prepare meals. I often find that whenever I involve my daughter in making lunch or dinner, she is more inclined to want to eat what she has made. It might only be one bite but at least she tried it lol!
Finger food. Younger children often do not want to be spoon fed. They might want to be more independent when eating. This is where I found finger food helpful. Starting this when they are getting their teeth in will make it less likely for them to choke on small pieces of food.
You can still give them the healthier options. They just enjoy the fact that they can feed themselves in their own time.
- Cooked broccoli
- Yoghurt drops
- Cooked sweet potato
- Toast with peanut butter
*Always make sure foods are still easy for them to chew on and swallow.
Give them less milk throughout the day. I found that as soon as I dropped a couple feeds, my daughter had more of an appetite and was actually hungry at mealtimes. That’s not to say that they will still eat for you. If you have a stubborn child who loves their milk, this can be easier said than done. But it definitely helped us in getting our daughter to eat better.
Cut down on snacks. The same applies to older kids who like to snack or graze throughout the day. My son enjoys his snacks but being a good eater, he tends to eat his meals regardless. Snacks can most certainly ruin an appetite and when you’ve gone to all that effort in preparing a nice meal, you want your child feeling hungry and ready to try things.
Make food fun at mealtimes. Did you ever hear that expression when you were a child “Don’t play with your food!” Well nowadays we do whatever we can to get our kids to eat lol! You can make food look appealing to children and for some reason it gets them eating!
We purchased this fun face plate while out shopping one day. Both my kids loved having it at meal times and ‘dressing up’ their food. You can find the link for this plate below.
Make sandwiches into shapes or cut fruit up and serve it on a skewer. The colours and interesting shapes make food more inviting for children.
Another great purchase we made was this fresh food feeder net. These are great for giving fruit to babies without the stress of them choking. They can suck on these feeders and it get all the goodness into them. Also great for teething.
These fresh feeder nets are great for feeding babies fruits!
Recommended Daily Allowance
In order for us to get all the nutrients and vitamins we need we are recommended to eat from the 5 basic food groups. These are Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein foods and Dairy. The food pyramid shows how much of each we should be eating on a daily basis.
Making things like soups and smoothies can get a lot of these foods into children. For children that aren’t as keen on their veggies, it’s good to sneak these into meals so they are disguised.
Here are some wonderful books that might give you some inspiration on what to feed your child. There are also some great recipe books that can get your kids involved. Check these books out!
Below you can find our food related activities for kids. How about getting your preschooler or toddler to tell you what they like and what they don’t like. And get them involved in cooking and baking. Take them shopping to pick out ingredients. For most children it is all about staying in control.
As children get older their tastes will change and they will be more inclined to try things.
FREE Printables!! ⬇️
This fun printable dinner plate will encourage children to talk about some of the foods they like to eat.
Other Food Activities
Check out our homemade smoothies that we make. Smoothies are a great way to get fruit into kids and they are pretty tasty too.
Or how about a food experiment? Have your kids try new foods by blindfolding them. Surprisingly children will often like a certain food just be tasting it. But this can be a struggle when they are adamant they don’t want to try it. Doing a food experiment can be fun.
Download our FREE food activity worksheets here!