It is completely normal for kids to go through phases that they are super picky. This is their first adventure into flexing their muscles of independence. How exhilarating to say NO! You can encourage, bribe and beg your child to do a lot of things but you can’t make them open their mouth and swallow. Can you image the power they must feel? So what to do? Well first of all realize that this is completely normal, really almost a complement. Your baby feels so safe with you that they are trying to grow and become more independent. Really the answer is quite simple. Let it be. What I mean by that is, don’t get into a power struggle with your toddler, or pre-schooler… or for that matter your school age child! When they are real small (think toddler) try to offer your child some choices. “Do you want applesauce or cut up peaches?” “Do you want a yogurt or slice of cheese” They are going to feel SO big because they got to pick their own meal and the chances of them eating it go up drastically. At this age, you need to get into the habit of putting foods on their plate that they are not totally familiar with. Just put them on there, expose them to raspberries, chicken noodle soup or meatballs. They may not eat, but they will at least get used to having foods on their plate and seeing new things. This is step one. From their you encourage trying, you are so pleased when they do (if the item gets swallowed or not is a totally different story!) and if they decide to not eat, which is fine, you just let it go. No bribing, begging or punishing, they will figure it out eventually I promise! If you have a school age child and they refuse a meal, then let it go. If they come to you before the next meal time and are hungry, remind them that THEY chose not to eat whatever delishousness you had served, and let them know when the next meal or snack is going to be. If they are younger, and even sometimes for the big kids, I do try to put one thing on the plate that I know the child likes. So that they don’t look down and get totally overwhelmed.
The biggest challenge is usually around veggies. Now 1/2 the plate is supposed to be fruit or veg, 1/4 of the plate starch (so think 1/2 c to a cup of rice, pasta, or a small roll) and then a serving of protein the size of your CHILD’s palm. If your child can’t stand peas, don’t skip his plate, just give him a smaller amount and put some grapes on the plate as well. This way there is something on his plate that he may like, something he may try and the rest you just have to wash your hands of! Remember only one serving of protein and starch if your child is struggling with how fast he or she is gaining weight, and as much fruit and veg as you child wants.