Regular fruits and vegetables are important to your toddlers growth, but some children are much harder to feed than others. It’s recommended for children 1-6 years old to have 4 servings of both fruits and vegetables a day. With picky eaters, this recommendation can be hard to fit into a week and frustrating for parents. But with these tips, you can help grow a child with a wider pallette.
1. Offer new foods 8-12 times before trying
Some kids need time to warm up to new foods before they will actually try them. Continue to offer them a new vegetable for 8-12 meals even if they continue to refuse or just pick at it. Let them take their time until they learn to adjust to the new food.
2. Give them options but not subsitutions
When young children start to get older, they want to make decisions for themselves and may often throw a fit if you don’t let them call the shots. If this is your child, offer them two vegetable options at dinner. Ask them “we have either broccoli or cauliflower, which do you want?” This let’s them know that you vegetables are on the menu, but makes them feel that they are a big kid and can make decisions.
3. Let them regulate their hunger
Many of our parents or grandparents wouldn’t let us leave the table before we finished our plate, but this may actually make it harder to feed kids as they create a negative attitude toward food and don’t learn to listen to their hunger cues. Offer meals at regular times, but let them regulate how much they want so they can learn to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Try to force food on them if they are not hungry. If a child leaves vegetables on their plate, save it for a snack after dinner if they get hungry. Let them know that is the snack option. When a child is hungry ready for a meal, they are more likely to try new foods.
4. Keep the dinner table positive
A negative atmosphere a time dinner time may cause your child to develop a negative attitude toward food. Use dinner as a bonding experience. Ask them what they did today, if they learned anything at school, or what they did for “play”. Keep the conversation fun so they learn to appreciate that time.
5. Get them involved
Giving some kids some responsibility may encourage them to try new foods. For younger kids this could be hard, but it can be as easy as asking them to pick out a fruit or vegetable at the grocery store or farmers market. You can also ask them to plate their own foods, help you wash vegetables or even plate them into fun shapes.
6. Be a good role model
Kids learn by watching you. They copy just about everything you do and all your behaviors. Give your kids what you are eating at dinner. Let them watch you enjoy new foods so they can learn to trust and enjoy them as well.