5 Proven Strategies To Combat Picky Eating

Today we’re talking about the most common mealtime struggle: picky eating. We’ve all been there, right? You spend you time making a meal from scratch, only to have your little one refuse to touch anything on their plate.

But don’t worry, because today I’ve got you with these five tried-and-true strategies to tackle picky eating head-on. Say goodbye to mealtime battles and hello to happy, adventurous eaters!

Let’s dive in!

#1 – Offer a familiar food with new or previously rejected foods

Alright, let’s get real about tackling picky eating with your little one – and I’m talking about a game-changer here! It all boils down to how you plate your toddler’s meal.

Let’s break it down…

When you’re putting together your child’s meal, you want to make sure you’re including some new foods or even those old rejects they’ve turned down before. But here’s the key – always include something they know and love. We’re talking about that one food item you’re sure they’ll gobble up without a fuss.

Why? Well, think of it as their mealtime security blanket. Having something familiar on the plate helps them ease into mealtime without the stress of facing a plate full of unknowns. Plus, it’s your backup plan if they decide to go on a hunger strike over the new stuff.

If you keep serving up the same limited foods you know they’ll eat you’re basically locking them into their picky habits. You have to continue to regularly expose them to new foods or foods they’ve turned down in the past.

Here’s how it looks – you’re whipping up baked chicken, broccoli, and mashed potatoes for dinner. You’re not exactly sure if your picky eater will touch anything on the menu, but you know they’re all about grilled cheese. So, maybe their plate ends up looking like a grilled cheese with a side of broccoli and some chicken cubes.

#2 – Be a role model by eating a variety of foods yourself

You may have heard the saying about how kids are like little sponges, right? They soak up everything they see, especially from us parents. So, when it comes to mealtime, they’re taking notes! If they see you and everyone else at the table digging into a variety of foods, chances are they’ll want in on the action too!

You can make trying new foods totally normal by giving it a go yourself. It’s all about setting the example! Chat with your kiddo about that funny-looking vegetable or the fancy way you’re cooking up their favorite dish. Making food prep seem fun and exciting takes the pressure off and makes trying new things way less scary.

#3 – Take the pressure off clearing the plate

Let’s talk about those classic pressure tactics parents often resort to when mealtime turns into a power struggle. You know the classic, “eat your veggies and then you can have dessert” routine.

It might do the trick in the moment, but to be honest, it’s not a long-term solution. You end up stuck in a cycle of upping the ante or switching up the consequences. Plus, it doesn’t exactly set the stage for a healthy relationship with food.

What we really want is for our little ones to form healthy eating habits and develop a positive relationship with food. That means giving them the space to explore and make their own choices at the dinner table.

By letting them take bites at their own pace without the pressure, we’re helping them build those important habits. They get to try new foods, figure out what they like and don’t like, and develop their own preferences along the way.

#4 – Offer foods in different forms and texture

Alright, let’s talk about how you can make a difference in the kitchen! Just like us, our little ones have their own taste preferences. So, if you’re hitting a roadblock with a certain food, it’s time to shake things up a bit!

Here are some tricks you can use:

  • Try A New Cooking Method: Try steaming, roasting, or giving them a good stir-fry. It’s amazing how a little change in cooking method can totally transform the taste and texture.
  • Cut Into Different Shapes and Sizes: Bust out those cute lil’ cookie cutters and turn fruits and veggies into fun shapes. Also slicing fruit or veggies into sticks is preferable to some kids.
  • Add Dips or Sauces: Try carrots with hummus, apples with peanut butter, or chicken with BBQ sauce.

See, it’s all about keeping things fresh and exciting! By mixing things up and introducing a variety of tastes, textures, and smells, you’re offering your child a variety of foods.

#5 – Limit snacks in between meals

One of the first things I always ask is, “What’s their feeding schedule like?” It’s like cracking the code to solving the mystery of mealtime battles!

Here’s why! Sometimes I’ll chat with a mama who’s worried because her little one just won’t touch anything at mealtime. When we take a peek at their feeding schedule I’ll notice they’re chronic snackers – meaning they’re snacking all day, everyday.

And, trust me, I understand. Saying no to our littles when they ask for a snack is tough, especially when you’re dealing with a picky eater. But here’s the thing – if their little bellies are constantly full, where’s the motivation to eat at mealtime?

So, what should you do? Set a up a flexible mealtime routine. For example – breakfast around 8, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5 – and stick to it. Snacks are totally cool in between meals – in fact, they’re essential for them to grow. But skip the snacks an hour or so before mealtime rolls around.

And the same goes for liquids, not just snacks! Start cutting back on the milk and juice before meals and sticking to water. We want those little bellies nice and hungry when it’s time to chow down!

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