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Children's Nutrition : Nutrition tips for picky eaters

Get your children eating a variety of food in no time!

Children can be frustrating at times. Children being picky at meal times can create a lot of unneeded stress. Children being picky eaters is common and being a parent it often means you are trying to convince your child to eat their vegetables, try new foods or eat 3 meals a day but often it can be a struggle.

What are some signs that your child is a picky eater?

  • Eating slowly

  • Rejecting previously accepted food

  • Being fussy during mealtimes

  • Sticking with the same foods

  • Weight and growth lower than expected

  • Rejecting complete food groups- usually fruit and vegetables

This may all seem very hard to navigate and can be worrying as a parent as you want your child to be as healthy as possible and when they are fussy you stress that they are not getting sufficient nutrition. It important to remain calm and not stress. Picky eating is common in children and usually is just a phase and goes away with time. To make life easier for all parents experiencing this, here are 8 nutrition tips on how to deal with a picky eater.

Top 8 nutrition tips for picky eaters

1.Eat together at mealtimes

The best way of your child to get out of the picky eating phase is to copy what you do as a parent. Eating with your child as often as you can is essential as when mum or dad eats fruits and vegetables that makes your child more inclined to do the same to be just like their parents. This is known as being a parental role model.

2. Don’t use food as a reward

Offering rewards for eating has been shown to negatively influence picky eaters. By offering your child a chocolate bar or some sweets for eating at mealtimes it can lead to the child associating these sweet treats as ‘nice’ food and their fruit and vegetables as ‘bad’ in comparison. Instead use activities as a reward such as 10 minutes extra play time or a walk around the park.

3. Serve new foods with foods you know they like

Serving new foods is tough but by serving them with foods that your child already love it makes them more likely to try it. For example, serve them their favourite yogurt with a handful of strawberries cut up into small pieces and if it works that’s great but if it doesn’t don’t give up and try again with different food combinations.

4.Give your child smaller portion sizes

More often than not smaller is better when serving your children new food. New food provides new appearances, new tastes and new textures which can be off putting for children. By providing smaller portion sizes it is likely to seem less scary and can be more manageable for your picky eater.

5. Use colour and shapes

Fruit and vegetables are usually the scariest food group for picky eaters so its important as a parent on how you present them to your child. Making them visually appealing helps massively as a children love to look at vegetables in a fun shape ( eg. peas shaped like a heart) or using as many colours as possible to create a ‘rainbow plate’ which is appealing to children.

6. Make mealtimes at the same time every day

You need to feed to encourage appetite. By serving 3 small meals and 2 healthy snacks at consistent times of the day it allows hunger cues to kick in and build a habit. With 2-3 hours between each meal and snack time it provides consistency and allows time for your child to get hungry so that they will want to eat.

7.Blend, Blend, Blend

Blending food can be used as a key component to get your child to eat new, nutrient dense food. By blending fruit to make a smoothie, tomatoes to make soup or spinach and carrots with a pasta sauce it gets rid of the unpleasant texture of these foods that children often struggle with and makes them think they aren’t eating fruit and vegetables when in actual fact they are just hidden.

8.Don’t give up!

Dealing with a child who constantly rejects food and refuses to eat can be tricky. It is important that if they reject a food that you try again the next day in a different way or in a different meal as it may take a bit longer to get a picky eater to eat new food. It can be frustrating but don’t show you are annoyed as the child will have negative associations with meal times then. Instead, stay calm and try again.

Need help navigating meal times with your child?

To find out more information , head to our picky eating page, by clicking HERE.

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