Thursday, October 12, 2006

Picky Eater? Some Tips to Help...

I have been blessed with 3 GREAT eaters. Only this year has my 11 year old (girl) begun to turn her nose up at certain foods - personally, I think they're becoming "uncool." If you have not been as blessed and mealtime has turned into a fight every night, read on for some helpful tips to prevent your young ones from becoming picky eaters.

1. Make mealtime a family affair. Today’s families are so busy; you can rarely find a day when everyone is home at the same time. It’s often difficult to sit down at the dining table and eat a meal together. Challenge yourself to start eating dinner together at least three days each week. When your toddler sees his siblings, or parents, eating their veggies and meat, they will be more likely to try what’s on their plate, too. (See a Family Dinner Video here)

2. Don’t offer alternatives. It’s too easy to walk into the trap of cooking two or more meals. Some mothers with two or three children fix something special for each child. Stop the cafĂ©-mentality in your family. Cook one healthy meal for everyone in the family to enjoy. Your toddler will fight with you at first, but eventually will realize that you are not a short-order cook anymore.

3. Introduce one new food at a time. Don’t try to overload your toddler’s palate with too many new foods at once. Present your toddler with one new vegetable for one week. He may not even try it for several days, but continue to offer it to him each time you cook it anyway. If you offer him too many new foods at once, he may feel overwhelmed and not attempt to try anything new at all.

4. Fewer or no more snacks. Don’t offer your toddler snacks or drinks throughout the day. Give her one snack at the same time each day. Instead of sweetened drinks, let your toddler drink water. By eliminating snacks throughout the day, your toddler will most likely be hungrier at mealtime.

5. Make mealtime fun. If your toddler plays with the food on her plate, don’t make a big deal about it. Instead, focus your toddler’s attention on something else. Engage your family in conversation about everyone’s day. Share your toddler’s accomplishment that day, like learning a new color or talking about a special activity. Draw your toddler’s attention away from the plate, and she is likely to eat her food before she even realizes it.

Dealing with a toddler who is a fussy eater isn’t fun or easy. Try these five tips on your fussy eater, and then implement your own ideas. Many parents deal with picky eaters, so remember that you are not alone!

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