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Successful Picky Eater Child Strategies

Contributed by: Jason Katzenback of Successful Picky Eater Child Strategies

Is your picky eater child driving you crazy? Here are some proven tips that I promise will help...

Do not allow your picky eater child to fill up on juice or milk before a meal, (a common trick to take the edge off hunger) or to drink so much that the daily calories are met with liquid.

Successful Picky Eater Child Strategies
Keep meals pleasant and stress-free, even if it means you leave the room because you are frustrated. If needed, let someone else supervise the meal.

Most importantly, do not give in and offer picky eater child junk food, no matter how long he or she seems to go without eating or begs.

Look for interesting ways to combine preferred food with new food. If you are preparing a Chinese dinner and your picky eater child likes spaghetti, he or she may be more accepting of it if you serve the new dish with lo mien noodles instead of rice.

Try to limit beverages such as milk, soda, juice, and punch just prior to meals. However, offer as much water as your picky eater child wants to drink but only if thirsty. You can always let your child have the preferred beverage after something is eaten, at which time there is no risk of his or her tummy filling up on liquids.

Dawn W. of Bowling Green, Kentucky says that her picky eater child really likes dinosaurs and knows the difference between plant eaters and meat eaters. "He likes to pretend to be various dinosaurs all the time so I will fix him something to eat sometimes in accordance to whatever type of dinosaur he is at the time and he will eat the ‘leaves off the trees’ (broccoli) just like Little Foot from the Land Before Time," she says. "Sometimes he is a zoo animal and will eat a banana like the monkeys do." Some parents implement the "one bite rule" which can be effective for many picky eater children. In this scenario, children are asked to try at least one bite of everything offered. Then, if they do not like it, they do not have to eat anymore. However, if you anticipate this will create a battle of wills and will nots - pass on it.

One mother in Denver, Colorado had a four-year-old picky eater child who hated to eat. No matter what type of food was made and set before her, she would take one, possible two bites and refuse to eat more. Since her daughter was thin, she took her to the doctor who agreed she needed to gain weight although she was not in any immediate danger. Desperate for a solution, the mother came up with the idea of having her daughter help cook dinner with her. The following evening, the mother told her daughter that she would be making hamburger patties for dinner and said she needed help.

Surprisingly, the daughter jumped up, very excited to help mommy with dinner. Together, they made hamburgers, a salad, some veggies, and French fries. Still skeptical, the mother placed dinner on the table and the daughter quickly added a hamburger to her plate along with some potatoes.

Holding her breath, the mother watched as the daughter took a big bite. Her father stated, "Wow Kelly is that burger good?" Beaming, Kelly responded, "Yes because I made it." From that day forward, Kelly spent time "cooking" with mom in the kitchen and her appetite, which had been nil, became ferocious. If your child has little to no interest in food, you might try including him or her in the preparation process to see if it works for you.

The best approach is to consistently, offer a particular food so that it becomes familiar and is not viewed as something new. Always invite the picky eater child to try some, but do not pressure him or her if met with decline. Eventually, your picky eater child will become curious about why you find it so enjoyable and since it has not killed you, he or she may decide to investigate the taste.

Here are a few extra tips that may help to encourage your picky eater child to eat more fruits and vegetables:

  • Have a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table for a quick, easy snack
  • Always have freshly cut vegetable sticks in the refrigerator
  • Add raisins, bananas, and other fresh or dried fruits to hot or cold cereals
  • Top broiled or grilled meats with a homemade salsa made with tomatoes, mangoes, avocados, red onions, cilantro and limejuice
  • Add bananas or berries to pancakes
  • Provide dried fruit instead of candy
  • Keep a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer that can be added to stews, casseroles, and stir-fried dishes
  • Freeze fruits such as bananas or grapes for a frozen treat

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