Preventing Picky Eater Syndrome

5:14 AM

I once read a parenting book that earned against "foredooming" our kids. Saying things like: He's got two left feet, We have a stubborn one on our hands, or, She's definitely a little OCD, is worse than we think. It instills this idea into our children's minds and our own, not to mention the people that we make the comments to. This also applies to picky eaters. If we accept "Johnny doesn't like vegetables" we are almost ensuring that to be true. 

Cal and I have tried really hard to not make any blanket statements about Oliver's food likes and dislikes and also to offer foods regardless if he has enjoyed them in the past. That's tip 1: do not stop offering a food because your child didn't like it before. Doesn't research say it takes an average of 7 exposures for a kid to start liking a food? This has been so very true in our experience. I remember despite my best picky-prevention methods early on Oliver couldn't stand pickles or cucumbers from about 12-18 months. I never allowed myself to accept this as a lifelong food dislike: I continued chopping pickles in eggsalad and putting cucumbers in his lunch wraps. It worked: he now loves both. Maybe it worked too well because now I have to panic when I hear Ollie opening the fridge himself and grabbing the glass mason jar of homemade pickles over our ceramic floor. 

Tip two is explain. Of course this will work increasingly well as they get older, but even from a young age expose your kids to the reason why you're feeding them something. "I am making these muffins with blueberries instead of chocolate chips because they can make us very healthy." Tell them the names of foods, how they've eaten them in the past, and what they're similar to. And if all else fails, tell them an animal they like who eats this food. We let Oliver know that T-rexes love oranges (a scientific fact! Ha ha) and he followed suit. 

Try a new method. If your monkey hates raw tomato see what they think of tomato sauce on noodles. I go back and forth on how I feel about veggie-hiding in recipes but in the end if it helps your child get the nutrition they need, do what you've gotta do!

Lastly: don't give up. I hated olives until age 10. All is not lost. A picky tiger can change their stripes. From apples to broccoli to granola bars to fish, we have watched our boy hate-then-love foods at a rapid rate. Stay positive and know you can have a non-picky child in time. 

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