It’s 3:40 pm. You’re 4 year old approaches you and without warning blurts out “Can I have ice cream?”? Dinner might be an hour away and to divert their attention and appetite away long enough to ensure they eat a healthier meal, you offer some other light snack. There’s almost always that 50/50 chance it works, however you may have a picky eater. That one child that no matter how well you cook simply won’t eat anything except one or two favorite foods, and if your unlucky those foods are probably not very healthy in large amounts (we are talking Cheeto puffs and Ramen noodles here. 😂) So what’s a parent to do when breakfast, lunch or dinner becomes ‘the battle of the gummies’?
Young children can be some of the pickiest eaters you’ll ever encounter, and their appetites can change on a whim. I remember there being a time our youngest son, Josiah would eat almost anything you placed in front of him until he turned 2, then the real battle begun and we had to think outside of the box. Of course our pediatrician warned us it would happen and gave us some great advice we would love to share with you – our Writing Elite families – along with some we came up with ourselves by thinking out of the box.
Why Are Young Children So Dang-Gum Picky?
It’s a fairly good question many parents have, and the answer can be a mix of simple, yet complex, but in short you’ll find your young one a picky eater for the following reasons.
They are becoming more independent. Now that your child has started walking and is beginning to speak, they are developing a sense of independence and have the consciousness to act upon it. Whether your child likes a particular food or not, they can refuse to open their mouth, run away, cry in protest, throw a tantrum or do all of the above.
They’re becoming more intuitive. Your toddlers will begin to notice a pattern with eating. They are learning most “good” foods are sweet and most unsweet foods are green, and that the vast majority of baby food products combine vegetables with sweet foods like apples, bananas or pears. A baby who has grown accustomed to eating such products develops a palate for sweet foods.
They’re learning what they do and don’t like. Your child may not be a fan of certain textures. Because eating is as much about tactile sensation as it is about taste, your child may not like foods that are too crunchy, slimy, soft, grainy, chewy and so on. If this is the case then your child’s pickiness should be consistent across different flavors. For example, if they don’t like crunchy foods, they’ll refuse a sweet, juicy crisp green apple as quickly as they’d turn down fresh, crisp celery. The problem is not the pickiness but rather the way that pickiness is managed.
Strategies to Combat Picky Eating
Try eating a meal together. There’s something almost magical about sharing a meal with your family, and for most young children being surrounded around their loved ones and watching them all enjoying something – whether it’s a meal; a t.v. program or a board (or video game) they quickly become open to newer experiences. Anne Fishel, family therapist and executive director of the Family Dinner Project speaks with Jill Anderson of Harvard EdCast on the benefits children enjoy sharing a meal with their family.
The Benefits of Family Dinners
Always offer them a new food, don’t give in to just serving their favorites. I know sometimes (most times to be exact) it’s tempting to give in to your child when they throw a fit over a food they aren’t keen on eating. Offer it to them anyway, and even allow them to see you enjoying it. It will take some patience, and won’t happen overnight; however incorporating foods they enjoy along with those they don’t is a more effective way in encouraging them to try new foods.
Try a children’s muckbang. In our digitized age, technology can be a blessing and a curse… unless you utilize it correctly of course. As a family we are all fans of Bon Appetite and have our favorite episodes that are not only entertaining but also get us so hungry for the recipes shown we end up trying some of them adding them to our menu.
I couldn’t help it, I had to add this in 😂🔥
It’s no secret some families enjoy a meal over their favorite programs, and the more the merrier in allowing children to see a wide diversity of food while enjoying a meal. And an added bonus would be to produce a muckbang of your own (if you aren’t camera shy) and watch it later at meal time.
What are some of your best picky eater remedies?
Every child is different, and come in a variety of appetites. What are some of your top ideas to reign in your picky eaters? Let us know in the comments. 🤙🏾🥰