Please Help!! I have a 3 ½ year old who only wants to eat chicken nuggets!! Okay maybe I am exaggerating slightly, but she really is picky and has a limited diet. My mother keeps telling me she isn’t getting enough nutrition and won’t grow properly.
First of all you are not alone, picky eating is typical for preschoolers. They are growing up and exerting their independence, choosing what and how much they want to eat. They are trying to gaining some kind of control in their lives. As long as they are healthy, developing normally and have energy; they most likely are getting the nutrients that they need.
With that said; there are different reasons why a child may be choosier than usual. Some children are sensitive to the look, taste, smell and or texture of foods. Some are less willing to try new foods and some don’t want to sit down long enough to eat
There are two things that specialists say you absolutely shouldn’t do! Do not force your child to eat and avoid nagging and making deals. Forcing a child to eat will typically lead them to eat less and show them that they need to rely on others to tell them how much and when to eat. They might associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration or may become unable to understand their body’s hunger or fullness signals. By making deals, children learn that they can barter for other things and ask for rewards for brushing teeth or getting dressed in the morning.
Here are a few helpful tips:
• Your child may need to be exposed to a new food more than 10 to 15 times before even trying it!
• Prepare meals together with your child.
• Introduce only one new food at a time, serve it with other foods you know your child will eat.
• Keep track of your child’s food sensitivities.
• Offer choices- “Do you want carrots or peas with supper?”
• Have your child help pick out veggies and fruits at the market.
• Offer the same food to the whole family, do not make special meals for some.
• Give your child small portions, allow them to ask for more.
• Cut food into fun shapes, serve with a dip or sauce, and arrange it in a pleasing manner on their favorite plate.
• Discuss the color and shape of the new food not how it tastes.
• Be a good role-model.
If you feel your child is still not eating or you are concerned about how much nutrients they are getting contact your child’s doctor for advice. They may direct you to a dietician.