Your child’s taste is fickle. One day they like one thing the next; they are spitting it out. However, try to keep you cool and don’t get frustrated. They are still developing, so they may be picky with their food. Their adjustment will take time. In the meantime, here are some tips for you to try and suggestions for you to follow. A power struggle, battling, and fighting are the last things you want to do.
1. Always offer no matter what.
Children are curious. Always offer them food, for example, fruits and vegetables, no matter what. Just because they say no, is not a sign, don’t offer again. Truthfully and eventually, they will try them and start to eat them. It just takes time. One thing you can do is, when they reject the food you give them, after you offer it to them, eat the food in front of them and show facial expressions about how delicious the food is and make yummy sounds. If you constantly and consistently do this without pressure, you will grab your child’s curiosity in time.
2. Make it easier for them to eat.
Blend it up or mash it. Sometimes it is the consistency of the food. If you blend or mash it, after some time, you can add small pieces then bigger pieces, and then soon they will eat the food without mashing it. It works for my daughter all the time. It is all about association and taste. Once they taste it is good, all mashed up, you can adjust the food after that.
3. Make food fun.
Children love fun. They are more receptive and learn things quickly when the task at hand is fun. So, use it to your advantage. For example, make a smiley face with their food on their plate like the classic egg eyes and bacon mouth. You can do this with all food. Another way is if you feed them veggies, use a tasty sauce or broth. Or, you can mold foods into various shapes. The better you know your child’s personality, the more fun you can make their food.
4. Don’t force.
If you create a stressful situation for your child, then they will associate the food with stress. When you force and push food on your child, they will avoid eating the food, leading to other issues dealing with eating and behavior. For example, they may say they are not hungry just to avoid the food and associate it with anxiety. You may think force will work, but it will only traumatize your child, even if they eat the food by your command.
5. Be careful of options.
Preparing a separate meal for your child different from everyone else is not the way to go. When you put dinner on the table, if your child does not eat, make them sit there and wait at the table until everyone else is finished. You are not forcing them to eat. However, they need to understand it is time to eat. If you always make a special meal for them, it will be difficult for them to eat what you serve.
6. Combine another food with their favorite foods.
If your child likes mashed potatoes, try to add some finely chopped vegetables. For example, you can chop up cauliflower or broccoli or add peas. First, add small pieces to see if they are willing to eat them together. Then, tell them the combination makes the potatoes taste fantastic!
7. Give food fun names with cartoons.
Why do you think Flintstone vitamins have been popular for more than 40 years? I can remember my mom giving me one for the day and sneaking another one later. For example, associate a vegetable with a powerful cartoon character. For instance, Popeye Spinach, Incredible Hulk Kale, Superman Carrots, or Batman Broccoli.
8. Set a good example
Explain to your child that you ate and enjoyed all different types of foods and were just like them. However, you experimented and tasted many foods at their age and continue to eat the ones you liked. Tell them which foods and veggies you ate at their age and that trying them is normal to know which ones you like.
9. Minimize distractions.
Do not allow any cellphones or TV at the table or during times of eating. Turn off all electronics during meal times. They need to understand that different situations require different means. And, that the TV needs a break. A child sitting at a table with no phone or TV will eventually start to eat. If they play with their food, let them. If they learn to have fun with the food they will start to eat it.
10. Don’t offer rewards.
If you offer rewards for eating, you will make the situation worse. You will make your child dependent on receiving something for something. For example, if you tell your child they can have ice cream if they eat their peas, they will apply this to other aspects of life besides food. So, it is not the best way because it will change their behavior and make yourself a hostage in this situation, creating a negotiation situation. You don’t want to be caught in this exchange. Your child needs to make the choices to eat without a reward or exchange.
Let your child make their own decision to taste something or not. You can only encourage them. Once they taste it, try to be positive with your facial expressions and words. For example, if they really don’t like the food, say, “Thanks for trying that was very nice of you.” Your child has to feel good about what they are doing, not anxious; the reason it has to be fun.
If you create curiosity, fun, and excitement with food, your child will associate the food with that. It can happen instantly, but, sometimes, it takes time. However, your efforts will lead to a faster result than without trying. What is required from your Parent(s) is consistency and patience. If you follow the following, you can make it easier for them to experiment, try new foods, and, easier for yourself. If they genuinely don’t like the food, ok, no problem. But, this is one aspect you will have to know if your child is truthful or not.