Helpful tips for handling picky eaters

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Want a child who asks for celery sticks, quinoa, and peppers? Brussels sprouts and rice with curry? Introducing healthy foods alongside proven favorites is a wonderful way to get kids to try new tastes.

“It’s important for children to develop a positive relationship with food at a young age,” said Stevensville pediatrician, Thomas Schomaker, DO. “By emphasizing variety, education, and routine, you can help your little one develop a deep appreciation for healthy foods.”

Read on for helpful tips on raising explorative and healthy eaters.

Name those foods

Nutrition education is critical. Help your child become more involved in grocery shopping, cooking, and learning the colors of foods. This can spark an interest in new foods—and a willingness to try them.

Keep in mind that kids who help prepare food are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. Proper nutrition education can ultimately increase your child’s willingness to try new tastes.

Expose your kids to foods

Expose infants and children to various foods consistently. This helps decrease the likelihood of a child having a hard time with foods. With consistent exposure, you’re teaching about different flavors, textures, and cultures.

Remember, consistency is critical. When kids are continually given the same thing repeatedly, it’s unlikely they’ll try new things when presented with it—especially when children are struggling with sensory or behavioral troubles. Be consistent about being different.

Sit together

A routine can help children become more open to different foods. When you provide family dinners and a routine of meals or snacks, children know what to expect.

This may help ease the anxiety in any situation. It’s also important to eliminate distractions at mealtime—which means no electronics at the table.

"We all eat it"

Ever heard that saying that kids hear half of what you say and do 100% of what you do? It’s true with food, too. Children who see adults eat various foods and try new foods are more likely to do the same.

If your child is still hungry but isn’t enjoying some of the news foods you’ve offered, let them have a “No, thank you” bite. When your little one tries a bite of food and doesn’t like it, allow them to say “No, thank you,” and then go on to have more of their favorite item. Or if they prefer, excuse them from eating.

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