It is perfectly normal for children to prefer some foods to others but when their options become seriously limited, it can put extra pressure on the family come dinner. You want them to eat nutritious food while your little one just wants to eat sausage and chips. To help take the heat out of getting your child to eat, we’ve come up with six ingenious hacks to get your picky eater to love their mealtimes.
1. Get them involved
Your child’s finicky eating could be because they are unsure or not quite understanding what food is all about. So, our first hack is simple but practical – get them involved!
From letting them help you shop and pick their own food to preparing a meal with you in the kitchen (this is also a great way to spend some quality time with your child) may help you to understand their food concerns a little more. And, if your child has played a key part in the food prep and sees what goes into their meal, they may also be more inclined to eat it once it’s on the table.
2. Hide the good stuff
Getting creative with their vegetables can mean your little one will eat their meal if certain foods are not quite in plain sight. Adding extra veggies to their Bolognese sauce, blending leafy greens into their tomato soup or even roasting vegetables under the cover of some delicious cheese, disguising food is a well-known hack for picky eaters that works. And it also ensures they are getting all those important vitamins, such as iron and vitamin D.
3. Make mealtime fun
To help your child build a healthy relationship with food, it needs to be fun and free of fear or anxiety. You can make their mealtimes more playful in a host of ways – from making funny faces on the plate with their food to letting them roll up their sleeves and get baking. And for a particularly problematic meal or ingredient, giving it a new name and dressing it up in a way that draws your child’s attention is a good way to get them open to trying it out.
4. Supplement their diet
While your child’s taste buds and appetite for food develop and mature, you may want to consider supplementing their diet with a multivitamin specifically formulated for younger ones. Many products come in delicious gummy-style sweets that are easy for children to take. And to support energy and reduce tiredness, iron tablets are also worth considering.
5. Make the most of breakfast time
If you can prioritise one meal, then make it breakfast as this gives you the chance to set your child up nutrition-wise for the day. And breakfast is a much more casual affair, with plenty of options to concoct a picky eater-friendly dish. Pancakes, cereal, eggs, sausages, sweet fruit – there are plenty of breakfast ingredients that can be mixed and matched to keep a picky eater happy. And if you put out a selection of food, your child can do their own DIY buffet breakfast, and eat more than they realise.
6. Take the pressure off
And finally, whatever you do, try to avoid a battle over food when it comes to mealtime. And that means taking off the pressure and avoiding bargaining; give your picky eater sufficient choice to create their own dinner instead. Then make all the portions child-sized, ensure your little one has been involved in the food choice and even the cooking before settling down to enjoy your meal. As the experts advise – try not to worry about a single meal but look at the bigger picture and what good, nutritious food your child successfully eats and enjoys over the week.