Your young child has likely figured out her own unique way of letting you know that she is an independent person with specific preferences, especially at the dinner table. Whether she denounces all food that isn’t beige, is on a macaroni-only diet, or simply refuses to eat a vegetable at least once per week, you may be tearing your hair out, trying to figure out how to feed her a balanced diet.
Tips and Tricks
Sticking to a routine is your first tactic. When children have regular meal times and snack times, they are more likely to be ready to eat and not in the mood to argue. Talk to your childcare center about when they serve snacks and lunch, and remember to stay on schedule, even when your child is at home. Then, be patient. Try to serve a food item or two at every meal that you know your child will eat, and introduce a new food as well. If your toddler refuses to eat a bite of zucchini, try again in a few weeks. If he only takes one bite, try again in the future. Getting him used to the idea of trying new foods is a victory in itself. And do not allow your child to force you into the role of the short order cook. While presenting options at dinnertime is wise, once the meal is on the table, your child must learn that he needs to eat what is in front of him, and that you won’t be making two or three separate entrees each time he changes his mind.
Partner with Your Daycare or Preschool
If your childcare center prepares meals and snacks for your little one like we do at Summit Kids Academy, they may be just the resource you need when looking for advice on how to get your child to try new foods, eat more veggies, and take in more nutrients at every meal and snack time. So many times, parents have told us that they are so pleased that our preschool has introduced so many new foods to their child. If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, talk to his daycare teachers about what’s happening at home. His teacher may have tips that will help you to streamline meals at home, and can even offer menu suggestions based on what he eats at daycare.
No toddler or preschooler has ever gone on a truly dangerous hunger strike. If your child refuses to eat now and then, she’ll make up for it at her next meal or snack. If she refuses meat, try protein in another form, like beans or tofu. If she hates veggies, offer a fruit and veggie puree. But most likely, between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times, she is getting the nutrition she needs, even with the occasional refusals.
How picky is your child? What tactics have worked for you, at home or at daycare? Let us know in the comments section!