Have you ever wondered how to get picky kids to eat?
If so, I have some good advice for you!
I am a mother of 3 very different children both personality wise and definitely in terms of what they like to eat.
At every meal it was no surprise to me to find that one of them would complain about something.
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Sometimes Finding Common Ground Isn't Easy
Desperate to find a common ground I began trying many different recipes.
I would spend hours going through cook books, sometimes spending hours online looking for answers.
Unfortunately most of the time I found myself at a dead end.
Yes, some ideas worked and others were a complete train wreck.
So here's what I've learned works for my 3 awesome kids.
Give Your Kids The Opportunity To Cook With You
I had a thought one day that what if I allowed my children to take turns making dinner with me and well I ran with it.
Aside from the bonding time and lesson on cooking this idea also allows the opportunity to let your child see just how hard you work to prepare a meal for them.
Preparing the meal also allows for them to see the ingredients you use and of course best of all bragging rights when everyone is talking about how good the meal is.
I found my children more likely to eat and not complain.
Yes, its not bullet proof but I noticed a huge difference in their eating habits.
If You Have Picky Kids, Be The Sneaky Parent
Another great way too get your kids to eat things they usually would complain about is hiding common thing with things they like.
Being creative comes in handy here big time, it's so important for our children to get their nutritional needs.
Here's A Few Ideas I've Used With My Kiddos
Ramen noodles are a great lunch idea and a great way to get picky kids to eat.
I've mixed veggies in with Ramen noodles since my oldest was a young child.
I cook them in the broth with the noodles to give them that little bit of extra flavor.
Try Different Seasonings And Textures
Beef stew was what worked for me as a child.
I was not at all for cooked carrots, but something about the gravy over them was just amazing.
Sneaking potatoes under the chicken and noodles, with some broth breaks down the potatoes so the texture is a little different.
With other veggies I've found trying different seasoning works best.
Try green beans with bacon, or sausage cooked in with them.
Lets be real, the common butter and salt just doesn't always cut it.
Get Picky Kids To Eat Using The One Bite Rule
So I am huge on this rule in my house.
As parents we have to set the path for our children's nutritional needs.
My one bite rule has no exceptions, but it allows the child to try new things at a pretty low cost.
At each meal I serve the whole meal on my kids plate.
Get Them To Try A Bite Of Everything Multiple Times
Yes everything, and they know they have to try everything on the plate.
If they don't like something they still have too try one bite of it.
In doing this the child has the chance too learn to like something each time it is served, it takes a child 10 to 15 times of trying something before their little taste buds say I like this.
I've found a lot of parents try something a few times and then stop simply because they said they didn't like it, please don't be this parents.
Make It A Big Deal When You Get Picky Kids To Eat
This trick is so important and I feel like so many parents lack it with meal time.
Our children look to us for the right and wrong in literally everything they do.
If your child eats that one bite of those icky green beans make a huge deal about it, look like a fool, after all they are making a very good choice.
I've gone as far as making up absolutely ridiculous chants and song, and why not if it knocks off the fits and outburst from such a huge issue, do it!
Giving a child recognition for the good choices always has a better pay off then giving yourself a stroke.
Give Your Child A Choice
Children like to have some control over things and by allowing this you knock out two birds with one stone so to speak.
First, you allow your child to learn to make a choice on something which is healthy in their development.
Second, if they chose the food mostly they will eat it because it was their choice.
With young children give them two or three choices, 'we need a vegetable for dinner would you like, corn or green beans?"
You can also do this with any part of the meal, "would you like to have lasagna or spaghetti for dinner tonight?"
Including them in little decisions on meal time will decrease the amount of headache and ultimately get them to eat.
The End Result Of Eating Your Food
Give these little champs something to look forward too after they eat their meal.
You can literally give them anything if you eat your food we can watch a special move, go for a walk, whatever the child looks forward too works fine.
I do not recommend using sweets as a reward.
Reward systems have proven themselves effective in so many different scenarios.
Even if they only took that one bite celebrate that because again children only learn what is shown to them.
Autism And Children On The Spectrum
Mealtime can be extremely hard for children on the spectrum.
Spectrum kiddos have medical needs that can include acid reflux, sensory, and a physical difficulty chewing, to name a few.
Mealtime can cause great anxiety when it approaches making the body shut down using "the fight or flight" response causing the child not to be hungry.
Some ways to help with "the fight or flight" response includes taking five mins before mealtime to have "quiet time", sit together as a family at mealtimes.
Introduce New Foods Slowly To Children On The Spectrum
Take your time introducing new foods, have set times for meals or snacks while remaining calm and relaxed.
Allow a child on the spectrum to explore different foods using touch smell, sight, hearing, and taste.
No Two Kids Are The Same
These aren't bullet proof but you can tweak them to the needs of your child, remember no two children are the same.
I do know that these will definitely reduce the dread of meal time though and with any luck you will have yourself one happy child who eats their food without being prompted.
Just remember if you set a rule stick to it even if at first you don't succeed try again, after all nothing comes without working towards the end result, which here is "to get picky kids to eat!"