5 things you shouldn't do if your child is a picky eater

Your child’s picky about food? Here are 5 things you should not do

 Child eating honey (Illustrative) (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Child eating honey (Illustrative)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Almost all children are picky about food at one time or another. A clinical dietitian for infants and toddlers has offered ways to help handle a child's limited food preferences.

Children’s preferences for certain foods can be difficult for parents. You want your children to eat well and taste a variety of foods but they prefer two or three regular foods, refuse to try anything new and make faces if there are any unfamiliar tastes.

Adi Efrati Rasoli, a clinical dietitian for babies and toddlers, has five rules to help kids be more willing to try more nutritious and delicious foods while preserving their favorite flavors.

Revealed in a varied but non-threatening way

Be sure to expose a large but non-threatening number of new foods, in different colors and flavors, especially vegetables whose varied colors  indicate different nutritional values, but at the same time remember that putting down a plate full of unfamiliar food can create a sense of insecurity for kids during meals. Therefore, at each meal introduce one new food. In addition, when parents and siblings eat the new food the child gets, the message is that, for example, avocado is safe if everyone else is eating it. When presenting a new dish, first ask kids if they can help you with preparations, then offer it pleasantly as part of the experience. Create a safe eating environment and don’t say, "There’s no choice."

 Child eating (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY) Child eating (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)

Create a safe and pleasant environment around the food and not one that exposes the child to "no choice" situations. It’s true, a hungry child will eat, but the atmosphere around the table should be enabling, pleasant, relaxed and safe for toddlers and children.

Allow multiple experiences when kids start to eat

Make sure to offer kids, as soon as they start eating solids, varied flavors by using herbs and a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and protein foods. During this year the curiosity and desire to be "just like" mom, dad, caretaker or siblings prevents many toddlers from varied experiences. Diverse exposure before the age of two will increase the variety of foods kids eat and will hopefully prevent them from becoming picky about food.

Don’t give up the old and familiar

Give toddlers and children at least one familiar and beloved item at each meal which is a "safety food", to avoid unnecessary stress around new foods that he’s not familiar with.

Don’t make unnecessary promises

Avoid conditioning around eating itself. Sentences that convey a message like: "If you eat you’ll get a surprise or dessert" make the eating scene a place of negotiation. Children are smart and observant, and over time you’ll have to increase the "return" for them to eat.

Remember that eating is a basic need, but also an essential basis for the bond between you and your kids. Maintain a calm and relaxed atmosphere around the food, as children eat to develop, and not to make mom or dad happy.

This article was written on Walla! in partnership with the JAMA parenting app.