You know you have picky eaters when your kids turn their head away from food, push away the spoons or get cranky at meal time. But why do kids turn into picky eaters?

The picky eating behavior can either develop due to a number of reasons or for no reason at all. Sometimes it’s because of an immature digestive system, parents that reward or punish them for their eating behaviors or they are beginning to develop their own food preferences. Dealing with this common behavior in children may be frustrating, but here are several tips you can use to help you tame a picky eater. 

Do not force feed

Even if it seems as if your child has only eaten very little food, never force feed them. They might have already had enough and they will eat if they still feel hungry. When they turn their head away from the spoon or start spitting food, don’t force it anymore. They might associate eating with discomfort and might dread meal times moving forward. 

Eat together as a family

Make it a habit to share mealtimes with the whole family and do it as often as you can. Be sure to avoid media distractions while at the dining table. There shouldn’t be TV or electronics. Make use of this time to model healthy eating. If your little one doesn’t feel like eating what is served, don’t prepare another meal for them as this will only encourage the picky eating behavior. 

Don’t fight with them when they refuse to eat

Instead of forcing your little to eat when they refuse a meal, let them listen to their bodies and allow hunger to make them eat. If they had a big lunch, you can’t expect them to eat much at dinner time. Never pressure or punish them when they don’t want to do it. Let them decide for themselves or they might dislike mealtimes and food all together. 

Be creative with recipes and presentation

Making food appealing can go a long way, so don’t be afraid to get a little creative. For example, if you want to introduce fruits and vegetables to your little one, you can cut carrots and apples into fun shapes and sizes or add a few spinach leaves to their favorite smoothie. Also, try out new recipes that incorporate veggies. Who knows what you can get your child to eat healthy without them knowing! 

Be a role model for your child

Many parents do not realize it but their food choices create a tremendous impact on their children’s diet. Young kids learn about eating habits and food preferences by observing others. If your child sees you incorporating healthy food items in your home cooked meals and eating fruits and veggies frequently, they are more likely going to follow suit. So, if you haven’t been doing it, it’s about time that you start making it a norm in your household to eat nutritious food. 

Don’t bribe your kids

As much as you want your child to finish their meals, bribery isn’t the best way to make it happen. Don’t get them to eat because there’s an exciting prize waiting for them. This will only give them the impression that eating the food they are served is an unpleasant chore which may lead to a constant battle at the dining table.

Get them involved in meal preparations

To encourage them to eat healthily, it is an excellent idea to have your kids tag along during grocery shopping and cooking. When you visit the grocery, let your kids select which fruits and vegetables they want to have for lunch and dinner. Then get them involved in the kitchen as you prepare meals and try out new fun recipes. 

Start with small portions

While we want to make sure our kids are getting enough calories and nutrients they need, feeding them smaller portions is better. One of the reasons why kids refuse to eat is because they feel overwhelmed with bigger servings. Start with small tastes and gradually increase the amount of their food if they do well.

One of the biggest struggles many parents face is dealing with picky eaters. But with the help of these tips, you can get your little one to appreciate and enjoy mealtime. 

For more tips on parenting and raising kids, or if you’re looking for a school that promotes holistic growth and development, feel free to contact The Pillars Christian Learning Center.