Toddler picky eaters

Introducing new fruits and vegetables to picky eaters.

It is very common for children in their toddler years to be picky eaters. During these times we need to remain calm and not get too frustrated; this can only make the situation worse. Try not to focus on the foods they are not eating and praise them for the nutritious foods they are eating. It is common and normal for preschoolers to only want to eat one or two types of food for a period of time.

Try to turn the food they do want to eat into a nutritious choice. These choices will more than likely change as the child grows. The more often we introduce a new food in a positive manor, the more likely they will be to try it. It is common to have to introduce a new food around 10 times before picky eaters are willing to try it.

Introduce new food slowly and one at a time. Give the child a food you know they will eat, accompanied with a new one. Try to eat in a family setting as much as possible to have the child see the other family members enjoying and eating new foods. Never pressure children to eat a new food. Preschoolers will gradually increase the number of food they eat as they grow older.

There are many ways we can introduce new fruits and vegetables to a child’s diet. Fruits can be introduced baked into breads or muffins using banana, pumpkin or zucchini. We can spread grape, strawberry or apple jam or preserves on toast. You can provide 100 percent fruit juice drinks and then introduce the new fruit as a whole. Better yet, once a child tries a new fruit and likes it, help them make their own juice using a blender. Adding fruit in deserts like jello can also be appetizing to children.

Vegetables can be blended into a child’s diet numerous ways that the child already prefers. Add finely cut vegetables into chili, goulash or spaghetti sauces. Vegetable soup, meatloaf and stews are an easy way to incorporate new vegetables. We can also add them into macaroni and cheese or pizzas. Have your child eat vegetables prepared in different ways. They can be cooked, added into cheese or ate raw with a healthy dip.

Michigan State University Extension recommends having children help you shop, clean and prepare the new food to help entice their interest. This way they will be more interested in trying the food. Avoid bribing children to try new food. Allow them to remove unwanted food in an appropriate manor if they do not like it.

Remember that being a picker eater, is most likely a phase that children grow out of. We need to remind ourselves that they are also developing their own taste buds during this developmental stage and we need to be patient and relax. If you have any concerns about your child’s nutritional health, contact your local health department or pediatrician.

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