Advice for Parents of Picky Eaters and How a Daycare in Kanata Can Help
Many adults dislike certain foods their parents forced them to eat when they were kids. Whether boiled Brussel sprouts or peas, many of us didn’t have a choice but to eat these foods, and now we avoid them altogether. The same goes for kids forced to eat everything on their plates, even if they’re no longer hungry. Although this may seem normal for many of us, it can cause children to develop unhealthy relationships with food.
Believe it or not, it’s quite common for children to be picky eaters at some point, especially for kids two to three years old. This is the time when children develop a sense of independence and the power of their words. So, if they get a lot of attention for refusing to eat a certain food or meal, they may keep doing it. However, some kids will be picky eaters throughout their lives, so if you can’t sway them to try new foods, at least know that you tried.
The only time picky eating becomes a problem is if kids aren’t getting enough nutrients for their overall health and development. If your picky eaters are in daycare, rest assured that your daycare in Kanata will make mealtime fun while you’re at work. And if you’re concerned about nutrition, consider vitamin supplements, and keep these tips in mind for getting your picky eaters interested in trying foods.
Children vs. Adults
While most adults try to eat balanced meals for every meal, it can be difficult to get your kids to do the same. So instead of aiming for three perfect meals a day, every day, focus on a balanced diet for the week. This is especially useful for kids who won’t eat at certain meal times.
Just like your own diet, it’s up to your child to choose what to eat and how much they will eat. Remember the phrase “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”? Chances are there’ll be moments where you’re convinced that that phrase was created with your kids in mind. Just remember that it’s your responsibility to provide good, healthy meals, and that children sometimes won’t eat everything on their plate, no matter how hard you try.
Remember that foods often taste stronger for children since they tend to have more taste buds than adults. Although our taste buds normally replace themselves every two weeks, this replacement stops as we get older. This is also why adults are more likely to enjoy certain strong-tasting foods they wouldn’t dare to eat as kids.
Don’t make a big deal about pickiness. The more attention you give, the more likely that behaviour will continue. Do not pressure, trick, punish, guilt, praise, or reward your kids to eat certain foods. Eating should always be a positive, stress-free experience. This helps develop healthy eating habits and relationships with food that last into adulthood.
Prepare one meal for dinner. Don’t cater to pickiness. If they know you won’t make their favourite foods, they’ll be more likely to try new foods at dinner. If your children only want fast food, try cooking a healthier version at home, and limit how often you take your kids out to eat fast food.
Kids eat when they’re hungry, and usually eat the right amount until their hunger is satisfied. And don’t worry about kids refusing to eat. They won’t starve themselves; remember how often you refused to eat as a kid? Eventually, you caved in and realized that the food you insisted you’d never touch isn’t so bad after all. Listen to your child. If they say they are full, then believe them instead of trying to get them to finish everything on their plate.
When introducing a new food, try to include it in most snacks and meals so your kids will be more willing to try it. It could take a dozen attempts before your child actually tries the food you serve them, so don’t give up.
How to Make Trying New Foods Fun
When kids have a positive experience with foods, they will be more likely to eat them. You can include your kids in meal prep so they will be more excited about the upcoming meal. This includes:
- Allowing them to decide between two vegetables that will go into a meal;
- Helping you with the cooking—i.e. washing the vegetables, or tossing the salad;
- Helping you set the table; and,
- Including at least one of your child’s favourite foods in the meal.
It’s also important to make mealtime fun without the distraction of toys, books, TV, cell phones, and other devices. Make a point to sit down with the family to enjoy a fun and social mealtime. And if your picky eater looks up to you or an older sibling, they may want to copy you and eat what you’re eating. If not, encourage them to take a bite of the different foods on their plate.
Other Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating
Keep the following tips in mind so your children will be more likely to try new foods and develop healthy eating habits:
- Offer new foods at breakfast since kids are usually hungry at this time. And once they are accustomed to the new food, you can include it in meals later in the day.
- Don’t offer snacks too close to a meal time.
- Give your kid time to get ready for a meal, such as a 10- to 15-minute notice in advance. This will help them shift their focus and settle down for the meal.
- Wait until after the main course to serve drinks, since milk and juice will make your kids feel full faster.
- Enforce the rule that the kitchen won’t reopen until the next meal or snack time.
- Small children have small attention spans, so don’t expect them to sit still at the table for long periods of time.
- Differentiate between “everyday foods” like fruits and vegetables, and “sometimes” foods like sugary treats, instead of naming them “good” and “bad” foods. Telling your kid that a food is bad may make them want it even more. But explaining that junk food can be enjoyed sometimes, on special occasions, will help them develop a healthier understanding of these foods.
If your child is going through a picky-eating phase, or they are picky eaters for life, don’t worry. As long as you serve a variety of nutritious foods and don’t make a big deal about their picky behaviour, then your kids will have a chance to decide on their own which foods they like and dislike. And when you’re at work, a daycare in Kanata will help make meal time fun for your kids so they can have a healthy relationship with food throughout their lives.