(Family Features) For parents with a picky eater, it may seem that no amount of coaxing or prodding will get that little mouth in motion. A fresh approach may be all you need to make meal time a more enjoyable experience for all.
Proper nourishment is essential for a child’s development, so when a battle of wills erupts over food, it can leave parents feeling especially frustrated and concerned about their child’s well-being.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can adapt to get meal time on track and healthy eating habits underway.
Make a one-bite rule. A simple fact is that not everyone likes everything when it comes to food. Allow your child a sense of control in making decisions about the foods he or she likes or dislikes. When offering new items, implement a rule that requires trying at least one bite. Then, if he or she declines more, set it aside and focus on the other foods you are offering. Remember, tastes change over time – even day to day for some kids – so don’t be afraid to try again in the future.
Offer a fun incentive. Make meal time an interactive experience with tableware that makes eating fun. Dinner Winner, by specialty giftware company Fred, is an award-winning kid’s dinner tray divided into small sections like a board game, where parents can portion out food into manageable bites along the path. The goal is to get to the finish line where a special covered treat awaits, providing motivation for children to eat their entire meal. The food-safe and dishwasher-safe plate is available in four styles – Original, Pirates, Supper Hero and Enchanted Forest – and features encouraging phrases like “keep it up” and “almost there.”
Keep it simple. In an effort to entice kids to eat, some well-intentioned parents offer too many choices, which can be overwhelming. Instead, limit the options and let them pick from two meal options, such as a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly.
Approach meals like building blocks. Think of each meal as a tower of blocks you’re teaching your child to stack. The bottom piece, the sturdy foundation, is a familiar food he or she willingly accepts like chicken or noodles. Then layer on additional pieces, such as adding a sauce with pureed veggies or a new protein.
Create a sense of ownership. Kids are more likely to eat when they can take pride in the fruits of their labor. Enlist their help picking recipes and selecting foods at the grocery store, and encourage them to help make the foods they selected. Much like prized hand-made artwork, children enjoy showing and sharing the things they make all by themselves.
Find more kid-friendly solutions for mealtime and beyond at fredandfriends.com.
Photo courtesy of Jen Anderson (boy eating dinner)
Photo courtesy of Fred® (dinner plate)