Handling a Picky Eater – Choosing the Right Tactics

Now that you've gained a better understanding of why your child is being difficult when it comes to accepting food, let's take a look at a few strategies that you can employ to get your preschooler eating healthy. Children need a balanced, nutritious diet to grow properly. Your job is to make sure you offer your preschooler the right kind of foods, which involves offering meals that comprise of a range of items from each of the four food groups.


Few tips on how to get your little one eating:

• Just place the new food on the table with the other regular items. Don't serve the food immediately by placing some on your child's plate, as this might seem threatening to your little one. Instead, wait until your preschooler has noticed the food and seen you eat a few spoonfuls of it; they might feel more willing to try it.

• Limit mealtime options. If you give your child the opportunity to choose anything it wants at mealtime, it will most likely choose something it is familiar with which won't help you tackle its pickiness. Instead, give it two options of foods that you yourself have picked. Don't offer your child an entire meal of unfamiliar food items, as it won't eat them; try to create meals that include familiar things with a few new food items or ingredients only.

• Offer new foods in child-sized portions. If your child seems interested in new food, offer it a taste and give it the opportunity to ask for more. If it does ask for a helping, make sure you serve a small portion. It's also a good tactic to offer new foods when your child is feeling particularly hungry.

• Set the rules and stick to them. It's fine if your child refuses to eat dinner – the last thing you should do is argue with it, as that would just make it more stubborn. Allow your child to leave the table but don't offer it any other food for the rest of the night aside from what you've already set on the table. Your child will eventually feel hungry enough to try some of what you're offering. The rule-setting tactic helps your child understand that mealtimes are non-negotiable. The important thing is for you to remain calm, be consistent, and never give up.

• Don't serve junk food. This includes hot dogs, chicken nuggets and fast foods. Opt for simple, healthy and homemade meals to get your child used to and craving healthy foods. Offer treats sparingly and try to stick to fruits and vegetables as snacks instead of chocolates and cookies.

• Be patient. Getting your picky child eating new foods can be a longwinded and frustrating process, but try to deal with everything with patience, optimism, and firmness without being aggressive or emotional. Present healthy foods in a positive light without resorting to categorizing everything as either "good" or "bad". And remember, you're not alone. Discuss things with other new mothers and compare stories to see what works and what doesn't.

• Determining When to Involve the Doctor.If you suspect that your child might have an eating problem, talk to your pediatrician. After examining your preschooler, your pediatrician will be able to determine whether there is cause for concern and whether there is a need for further medical attention.

• Don't make a big deal about new foods.