Handling "choosy" eaters

10 effective ways to handle a “choosy” eater.

“Choosy” eating is a child-size step towards growing up and becoming independent. A child’s “no” can mean independence and learning to make decisions. What seems to be “choosy” eating may instead be a smaller appetite. During growth spurts, children tend to eat more and have bigger appetites as their bodies require more food for energy. Try to relax and be patient during these challenging times. Michigan State University Extension suggests these tips as you work with “choosy” eater:

  • Treat food jags patiently as they usually don’t last long.
  • Consider not what a child eats in one day, consider what they have eaten in the last several days.
  • Do not force a child to eat anything. It should be our job to provide a variety of food and the child’s job to choose what to eat and the amount to eat. Trust your child’s appetite.
  • Set reasonable times to the start and ending of the meal. Remember each child has a different amount of eating time.
  • Stay positive and avoid using the word “picky eater,” as children tend to believe what we say they are.
  • Keep up with the no food touching rule. If your child expresses this need, respect it. This phase usually passes.
  • Avoid making several dishes. Try to make dishes that everyone likes. Occasionally, if for some reason the child doesn’t like the food, maybe you could offer them something simple like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cereal. As they get older they may adapt to the dish, but avoid becoming a short order cook right now.

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