“Yuck” and “I don’t like it” are sure to be popular phrases in your household if your child is a picky eater. Although, picky eating is common for toddlers as they grow and discover new tastes and textures of food that they’ve not had before. At this young age children are developing food preferences, which can be stressful time for us mums as we want to cook nutritious meals that we know that they will enjoy.  Here are our tips for tackling those mealtime perils:

1. Respect your child's appetite
If your child isn’t hungry when they sit down at the dinner table, don’t pressure them to clear their plate. Don’t bribe them with a chocolate bar if they eat all their carrots, instead encourage them in a positive way to eat their veggies. While you may be hungry after a day’s work, bear in mind that your child may not have the same appetite as you, let them gauge their own hunger levels, don’t worry they will soon tell you if they’re hungry. In addition, serve slightly smaller portions to avoid overwhelming your child and let them know that if they’re still hungry there’s plenty more for seconds.

Furthermore, when your child is waiting for dinner, don’t allow them to drink any fizzy pop as this will only fill them up, instead offer them a nice cold glass of water or squash.

2. Stick to the routine
Serve the same meal to your family at the same time each day, rather than having to stress out about cooking different meals for different people. This will save you heaps of time and get your little one into the routine of dinnertime. You can always include at least one food that your child likes with the meal while providing a balanced diet.

3. Introducing food
Allow your little one to get familiar with new foods by letting them touch, smell and taste the food before serving it up in a meal, even if it does go everywhere! They may need repeated exposure to new food before eating it properly. Encourage your child to talk about the food’s colour, shape, texture and smell and don’t just harp on about whether it tastes good or not. 

4. Don’t cook a second meal
If your child rejects the original meal, don’t prepare another! This will only encourage picky eating.  Encourage your child to stay at the table for the rest of the mealtime, even if he or she doesn’t want to eat.

5. Make edible art
Use cookie cutters to cut out food in fun and interesting shapes such as stars and hearts as this will make the meal look more aesthetically pleasing to your child. Make pizzas and omelettes creative by laying out the toppings to make a smiley face. Moreover, it’s important to use brightly coloured foods as this will catch your child’s eye.

6. Encourage your child to help
When you do the weekly shop, encourage your child to help you choose vegetables, fruit and other healthy food but don’t buy anything you don’t want your child to eat! Once you’ve got the shopping home, let your child help you to put it away. When preparing meals encourage your little one to get involved by letting them rinse the vegetables, stir the batter or butter the bread. There are lots of little tasks that they can get stuck into!

How did you overcome the picky eating stage?  Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

Main image taken from Fooducate.

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