Yesterday’s post was all about how picky eating among children is more nature, less nurture. But environment does have its role. In this NY Times article, child nutrition experts offer advice on how to get a picky eater to try new foods.
Meals should be served family style, with no separate foods for children. Prepare dishes you enjoy, but introduce new foods alongside at least two items the child likes. Even if the child eats only bread for eight days in a row, keep offering alternatives.
Adapt dishes to child-friendly shapes and sizes. If you make a stew, separate components into separate dishes in pieces big enough for a child to grab. That way, everyone at the table can select as much or as little food as he or she wants.
Child-friendly shapes and sizes sometimes work great. But the way it works in my house, if we accidentally cut something when my child wanted it whole, or halved it when he wanted it in triangles, there is hell to pay. Our rule is, check with the kid first before you get cutesy with the cookie cutters.
Never say a child has to taste everything, but encourage sampling of new foods. Reassure children that they may politely spit it out if it tastes bad to them.
Probably should mention here to provide some kind of receptacle for the regurgitated food. Otherwise it will land on the plate where everyone will have to look at it the entire rest of the meal.
“Parents must not pin their hopes or their feelings of success on getting the food in the child,” said Ellyn Satter, a child nutrition expert. “They need to remember they have control over what they put on the table. Over whether the child eats it, they do not have control.”
Good advice. I’ve heard this before and it makes sense to me. You control what they’re offered to eat, they control whether or not they eat it. Here’s a few more:
Keep things calm and turn off the television. Neophobic children sometimes reject food as a way to control an overload of stimulation.
If they don’t eat anything, hold off offering food again until snack time a couple of hours later.
Don’t use rewards to get a child to eat. Television time should not be a bribe for eating broccoli.
Children younger than 2 should be given as many new tastes as possible, before the picky phase begins.
Here you go baby Sasha, it’s called mango chutney. Yum! And finally:
Giving food cool names can help. In one experiment, Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that when peas were renamed “power peas,” consumption doubled.
Please don’t tell me it’s that easy. I can’t believe it’s that easy.