Tue | Dec 18, 2018

How to feed a super picky eater

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie

When it comes to feeding toddlers, we all have our tricks to get that 'no' to turn into a 'yes'. You might start off with the airplane motor, transition into the cookie-monster voice, or turn dinner time into a catchy sing-along. At the end of the day, feeding a toddler who is a picky eater, is a major struggle which is not only exhausting, but will have you wondering about the health and nutrition of your pride and joy.

Put an end to the daily food battles with Outlook's top seven tips on how to feed a super picky eater.

1 Take it slow and be consistent: In all your efforts to make eating fun and making food desirable, you are probably becoming a bit of a maniac. All your offerings and techniques could be overwhelming to the child. If they are interested in a particular type of food, let them have it. If not, set it aside and reintroduce it at a later date. Keep the gimmicks to a minimum. Remember it is food time, not play time.

2 Introduce foods: Introduce new foods one at a time and in small amounts. Instead of an entire meal of unfamiliar food, mix one favorite with something new. Always include something your toddler knows and likes in each meal.

3 Look for ways to boost nutritional value: Do you have a toddler who only likes starchy food such as macaroni and noodles? Make it healthy by adding diced chicken or purÈe, and some vegetables such as carrots. If he or she likes cereal, add their favorite fruit to it.

4 Minimise distractions: Try your best to minimise distractions while eating. Toddlers tend to lose interest in things very quickly. Place them in an area where all they can focus on is the food in front of them.

5 Create a food schedule: Structure your child's eating so that they have three regular meals a day and two healthy snacks in between meals. Doctors say that most often, picky eaters are 'grazers' - that is, kids who eat small amounts of food throughout the day. Making sure your child has set meal and snack times will help ensure she's eating when she's hungry, decreasing the chances of snacking too much.

6 Show them that you love it: Most children aspire to be big and strong like the people they are surrounded by. Show them how much you love eating a particular food, to entice them into trying it for themselves. Let them see how delicious it is.

7 There is no formula: Offer your children healthy options at an early age and allow them to taste a variety of flavours, textures and spices. You cannot force a child to eat, or control his or her preferences. You can only provide them with options in a calm, repetitive and consistent way and allow your child to partake when he or she is ready.