If your child is a picky eater, then you’re not alone. Studies suggest that as many as 25% of toddlers can be very particular about food preferences. In fact, it’s not uncommon for young children to refuse to eat anything but one or two particular foods for weeks on end. Unfortunately, this can make mealtime feel like a battle for many parents. When it comes to dealing with a picky eater, the most important thing to remember is that, with time, your child’s appetite and eating behaviors will change.

At Watch Me Grow Las Vegas, we feed breakfast, lunch, and snacks to the children in our care, so we’re no strangers to dealing with picky eaters. Fortunately, we have developed some methods along the way to help make mealtime a more pleasant experience for everyone involved. In this blog post, we share five tips for dealing with picky eaters, so you can ride out this normal developmental stage in your child’s life. 

If you’re searching for the best early childhood education in North Las Vegas, look no further than Watch Me Grow Las Vegas. We offer programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (3 to 5 years old), as well as before and after school programs and summer camp for 5 to 12-year-olds. All of our programs feature fun and educational activities, such as reading, puppetry, art time, science, outdoor play, and much more. Get in touch with our team of child care professionals to enroll your child, or schedule a tour of our state-of-the-art facility now. 

Involve Your Child in Food -Buying and Meal Planning

Children are much more likely to enjoy certain foods if they were involved in choosing and/or preparing them. Next time you head to the grocery store, take your little one along and teach them about all the colorful and yummy fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle. Let them pick out whichever ones interest them, and incorporate that into your meal plan for the week. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let your child pick out a new recipe to try. 

Another thing that children love is going to the farmer’s market, where they can enjoy the abundance of fresh air and exciting new fruits and vegetables. If you have a green thumb, you might even want to plant vegetables with your child in your yard or window. Just as you like to watch your little one grow, children love watching seeds grow into mighty plants.

Remember That Variety Is the Spice of Life

While it might seem counterintuitive to give a picky eater a variety of different foods, exposing your child to new flavors and textures is actually essential for expanding their palette. Offer an array of different vegetables, fruits, and higher protein foods like meat and fish at least two times per week. Make sure to add in some herbs, spices, and condiments to make simple meals tastier. To prevent spending money on foods your child does not like, buy new foods in small quantities at first and accompany them with some of your child’s favorites, until you figure out which ones they like. Reintroduce the new food after one to two weeks. Remember that it can take a child 10-15 times of seeing a new food on their plate before they even try it.

Avoid Food Fights

Never force feed or pressure your child into eating something they keep refusing. Children need to listen to their bodies and use hunger as a guide for when to eat. If they ate a big breakfast or lunch, it makes sense that they may not want to eat much for the rest of the day. Pressuring kids into eating certain foods or punishing them when they don’t can make them actively dislike those foods even more.

Eat Together and Serve Child-Sized Portions

Share meals together as often as you can. This dissuades media distractions like TV or cell phones and gives you an opportunity to model healthy eating. Serve one meal for the whole family and resist the urge to make a separate meal for your child. To make things easier, you could prepare a meal that can be assembled differently by different people, like a taco bar. Your child can skip the lettuce and sour cream and head straight for the beef and avocado, if they choose, encouraging a sense of independence. Try to include at least one food per meal that your child likes as an incentive. 

Make sure to serve each meal in small portions, as large portions can feel overwhelming, especially if they feature ingredients that your child is unfamiliar with. On top of taking pressure off your little one, this helps you avoid wasting food. 

Make Food Fun

Children love visual stimuli, which is why it can be good to choose foods that are colorful (you can even spruce up mashed potatoes and other light-colored food with food dye!) and cut into fun shapes. This might mean a little more work for you, like spending time with a cookie cutter, but it’s often worth it in the long run. Make star- and heart-shaped sandwiches, create ants on a log, or shape a rainbow out of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

Contact Our North Las Vegas Daycare Now!

When it comes to child care, dealing with picky eaters is only one of the many skills that our team of early child educators has to offer at Watch Me Grow Las Vegas. To learn more, reach out to us today or schedule a tour of our clean, safe facility.