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Is Your Child a Picky Eater?

Picky eating is often the norm for toddlers, as they are naturally more sensitive to taste, smell and texture. Although toddlers are beginning to develop food preferences, they also can be unpredictable about what they may want for a particular meal on a specific day. The goal for feeding a picky eater should be to try new foods and to keep food from starting a battle. While their favorite food one day will end up being thrown on the floor the next, the food that they had spit out, day after day, will unexpectedly turn into the one they can’t get enough of.

Many parents worry about what their children eat and do not eat. However, most kids get a variety of nutritious foods in their meals over the course of their week. Don’t become frustrated with this kind of behavior, try to make healthy food choices available to your youngster, and acknowledge that his/ her appetite or food preferences today may be quite different than yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. That’s just the way toddlers are.

Five tips to help the picky eater

Until your child’s food preferences mature, consider these strategies to avoid power struggles and help the picky eater in your family eat well balanced meals:

Set a good example
The family menu should not be limited to the child’s favorite foods, your child should select from a variety of foods at mealtime like a vegetable, fruit protein and starch.

Stick to the routine
As a parent, you control what, where and when food is provided, your child decides whether or not to eat the food, and how much to eat. Set a schedule for meals and snacks, avoid giving your child food between the scheduled times. Both snacks and meals are important for growing children to meet their nutrition needs. If your child chooses to skip a meal or a snack, he or she can wait until the next scheduled time in a couple of hours. If your child refuses to eat, have him/her sit at the table until the majority of the family is finished eating.

Make it fun
The mealtime environment should always be considered during feeding time. Conversation should be pleasant, the eating space should be clean and bright and distractions should be limited. Mealtime is not a time for watching television or arguing.

Be patient with new foods
If your child does not like or does not seem to be eating the foods that you have prepared for a meal or snack, do not worry. Avoid the temptation of returning to the stove and cooking foods that you know your child will eat. If your child refuses a meal or snack, there will be another one in a few hours and he or she should be able to wait until then. When children are hungry because they chose not to eat, they will be more likely to eat what is offered next time.

Do not offer dessert as a reward
Dessert does not need to be offered with every meal or even every day. Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets. Try to redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

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