What to do about children that are picky eaters

Shutterstock.com/ Mark Umbrella

One of the toughest parts of raising a child is meal time. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner getting your child to stay still and eat some food when you need them too is tough. They are bundles of little energy and depending on their age they may not even understand why they need to eat or what the benefit will be. Once they have sat down getting them to eat the right food is even harder. A large proportion of children are picky eaters and it can be incredibly frustrating to try and convince your child to eat some simple foods when you have other tasks that you need to get to. Here are our tips when it comes to picky eaters.

The first thing we have to advise is to calm down. So many parents are extremely bothered by the fact their children are picky eaters. Each mealtime can become a huge drama as a fight takes place over whether they will eat the broccoli or not. This is understandable. This may be the first time your child has really acted out and you are likely already thinking twenty years into the future and agonizing over your child become a terrible person with terrible habits. Relax, no meal now will have such an impact. Life is far more complicated than that.

Studies have actually shown that a child being a picky eater is not that bad of a thing and very common. It appears that picky eating habits are related to maternal feeding habits, namely restriction, and demand. Studies also show that it is not a trait that goes away with it common for a four-year-old to remain a picky eater for the next five years. If this is a war you are waging it is one you are likely to lose.

The real question you must ask is why are you waging a war. If your child is not getting enough good nutrients in his or her dies then you need to force some foods on them but there may easier ways than forcing broccoli down their throat. Take your child to the grocery store and let them pick out the foods they want to eat, avoiding the aisles that only have nasty food. When you are preparing a meal, involve your child in the process. A child who has helped make food is far more likely to want to eat that food. 

If they still don’t want to eat the food, don’t force them. Putting the food on their plate and making them eat it will likely result in a negative relationship with the food and make them hate it for a long time. Instead, if they refuse something don’t make an issue of it and simply leave the food item in the center of the table for the entire family. Slowly they will become interested and if everyone else looks like they are enjoying the food, they may ask for some too.

Studies have also shown that being a picky eater may be a good thing. Of those children who were picky eaters, none were found to be overweight. On the other end of the spectrum, none were found to be underweight or facing malnutrition either. This means that allowing your child to be a picky eater may actually be better for their long term health.

Another factor to take account of is cost. If you try and force foods on a child it will likely result in you throwing out a lot of these items. If you have that spare disposable income then it is worth a shot, but if you don’t you are likely wasting precious resources on food that is not being eaten. Instead, give the child the food they want and fight a different battle instead.