7 Tips For Improving Your Picky Eaters Diet
1. Start very small
Maybe you're not giving your child a giant bowl of peas, but many parents offer a portion that's way too large. Try a single pea, noodle, or a crumble of cheese. Encourage your child by saying something like: "This is easy; you could be done in a second." Once your child eats it, give him a food he does like. Then at subsequent meals, increase the portion of the new food and phase out the follow up food. Example: give a sliver of apple, immediately afterward give a few pretzels. Everyday increase the amount of apple and decrease the amounts of pretzels.
2. Stick with it
You've probably heard it before. Many children have to try something 10 to 15 times before they like it. While that may sound daunting to parents who have a hard time getting their kids to try something once, it does become easier. Research shows that once you get the ball rolling on tasting new foods it takes on average only six attempts for kids to accept them.
3. Scale back on snacks and drinks
Once families cut back to three meals and one to three snacks at relatively consistent times, kids can be more receptive to trying something new because they are truly hungry. Ditto for drinks. When kids fill up on drinks, they don't want to eat anything.
4. Invite an adventurous friend
You and your spouse do influence what your child tries, but no one can make a bigger difference than his friends. Research found preschoolers were more likely to taste mango when they saw a classmate do it. Of course one taste won't make them a total fan, but it will get him over the hump of trying it, which is half the battle.
5. Keep your cool
Some food avoiders relish the attention that it brings them. Don't necessarily make a huge deal when your child wants to try something - the more casual you are about it (offer him a piece, but don't watch him eat it for instance) the more likely it is that he'll actually follow through.
6. Focus on flavor
Not all picky eaters want bland food. Some seek flavor and/or crunch. If your child prefers sweetness, glaze carrots with a little honey or maple syrup or if they like spice, try seasoning chicken with a little chili powder.
7. Build on success
Just remember to not rush from one food or texture to the next. Give it at least a week or two until progress seems maintained. A few months from now, you'll be rewarded with a healthier eater, and a little more peace of mind.