Friday, August 21, 2009

Is your kid a picky eater? It's all your fault!

No seriously, it is. I know that's harsh. I am surprised at how many parents unknowingly help their kid hate food. I know that you don't love your children any less than anyone else, but you must face the facts. You do need to know that it's never too late! Assuming your child doesn't have food allergies or any other special need, here's how you can help it:

1. Give them a variety of foods from day one. This is the biggest and most effective way of helping your kid eat different foods. Many kids are stuck in a PB and J/ mac and cheese rut because that's what the parents are stuck in. Give them avocado, smoked salmon, different nut butters, curries, foods with different herbs and spices etc...When they are older, put a couple of options on the table and let them choose what they want.

2. Give it to them again...and again....and again...I've heard that it can take up to eight exposures for a kid to start eating something. One of the biggest mistake a parent can make is decided his or her child doesn't like something and never serving it to them again.

3. Don't force them to eat. This is one is just my opinion, but if the pack order is correct in the home, then a battle of will does not need to be fought over that last bite of meat on the plate. Sometimes kids eat more, sometimes kids eat less. But...

4. Don't accomodate their pickiness. Don't be a short-order cook. Let them have a preference, yes, but serve the same meal for everyone. If you are having Dover sole, don't make your kids pizza, make them what you are eating!

5. Please, oh please, don't make them over-boiled frozen broccoli and expect them to like it. It's just not good food. Make your kids good food.

6. Make it fun. For older kids, this can make all the difference. As a family, you can learn a new cuisine together. Or go to the grocery store and find a funny or interesting piece of produce and try it with each other. If your kid has good manners, take them to a nice restaurant with no kid's menu.

7. Allow them to not like some things. You don't like everything, do you? I don't like fresh tomatoes. Some people have a genetic tendency to think cilantro tastes like soap. Some people hate the texture of cottage get the picture. It's OK to not like a couple of things. It's not OK to not like anything.

8. Trust me, you'll never have to teach your kids to like junk food. It's like TV. Even if the first taste is at three years old, they will still be all over it.

9. Go by the motto, "It's OK to not like something, but it's not OK to not try something."

ps. Isn't the kid in that photo creepy looking?


familyfeedingdynamics said...

Overall I think you make some great points. the one I disagree with is the "you have to try it" rule. I am a family doctor turned feeding coach, and for many kids with the right temperament this still feels like pressure. Why not let them try it in their own time? If they think it's their idea, they are more likely to like it. My daughter didn't touch Kohlrabi the first 5 times I made it, but the 6th time, she popped it in her mouth and declared "I love Kohlrabi!" She was 2 1/2 at the time. Some kids would just rather fight than eat. I guess I would add, eat the foods you want your kids to eat WITH them, and have a nice time. Check out my blog for more feeding tips etc.

The Saunders said...

annika I think it should be mentioned that you have credibility in this area since you are and have been for some time a full time nanny.