Believe it or not, children don’t develop picky eating habits just to annoy and frustrate their parents. The first signs of picky eating habits typically emerge as a child enters toddlerhood. I was told that the habits tend to diminish between the ages of 4 and 5, although certain studies suggest that if children are still picky by age 9, they’re likely to remain picky into young adulthood. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way when raising children and tips on how I Turned “Yuck” into “Yum”.
- Keep Meals simple, and serve individual foods separately. Complex casserole dishes are rarely popular with children. Occasionally, you may stick a “secret” ingredient in.
- Serve new foods in smaller quantities that you know your child will eat. I know our daughter eats smaller portions than our son and give her smaller amounts to start off with. If she wants seconds, than I’m happy she enjoys the dish. When introducing a new food, insist that your child try it, but don’t expect instant acceptance. It took me a long time to finish my peas when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I have grown to love the taste of peas. Discuss new foods briefly so that the meal is not a mystery-children like to know what they are eating.
- Avoid hot, spicy ingredients unless your children prefer such foods. Parents can easily add extra seasonings to their own plates.
- Encourage your children to accept beans. Unfortuneately, beans have a bad reputation because of their texture as well as their gas-producing properties. (Did I just say gas? You mothers know what I mean). Serve beans in soups, tacos or burgers-forms that are more likely to succeed with children.
- Whenever possible, add extra nutrition to your children’s meals with the following ingredients: nutritional yeast, miso, sunflower seeds (grind the seeds for younger children), wheat germ and tahini.
- Use a juice, to make tasty and nutritious fruit and vegetable drinks, which children enjoy at both snacks and meals. Encourage children to invent their own combinations. This gets them excited about fruits and vegetables. Remember, if your children start out with wholesome ingredients, you can allow them much more freedom of choice without worrying about their nutrition.
- If children are hungry between meals, offer them raw vegetables for a snack. Carrot and tender celery sticks (children aren’t fond of stringy celery) in a cup of cold water will be gobbled up as fast as cooking-by adults as well as children.
- Don’t keep foods in the house that you don’t want your children to eat. A child may never choose fruit over a cookie, but he or she often will choose fruit over nothing.