Is your child a picky eater? As a parent, are you worried about this issue? Dealing with choosy eaters is a common challenge that many parents encounter. Parents need to learn how to deal with picky eaters since it can have a significant effect on children’s nutrition and growth.
Several reasons contribute to being a picky eater, namely negative mealtime experiences, anxiety, and peer influences. But there are some solutions like making meals fun, being a positive role model, and offering creative food choices to solve this problem in children.
Continue reading this blog to learn more about the reasons that make a child fussy about their food and learn how to handle picky eaters.
Understanding Picky Eating
Picky eating in children refers to a child’s selective and limited food preferences. Usually, they show resistance to trying new foods or certain food groups. This behavior is not abnormal in children especially when they are passing a particular developmental stage.
But sometimes picky eating can be a sign of a potential illness, so parents need to distinguish between normal picky eating and potential eating disorders. Here’s how to distinguish between these two:
The normal picky eater:
- They just dislike certain foods, not all food groups.
- They become more open to trying new foods as they grow older.
- There are no negative impacts on their growth and weight.
Potential eating disorders:
- They consistently avoid eating entire food groups.
- They lose weight significantly.
- They have trouble performing daily tasks, for example, doing homework.
As we mentioned earlier, picky eating is a normal issue in children’s developmental process. Let’s look at two research findings that prove picky eating is a common phase in childhood:
American Academy of Pediatrics in 2020 found a correlation between developmental issues and eating disorders in children.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2020 wrote about the commonness of picky eating during childhood.
The Factors That Contribute to Picky Eating
We have gathered a few factors that can be the main causes of picky eating in children, let’s take a look at them.
- Fear of the unknown: Children are more comfortable with eating familiar foods, therefore, it’s normal to refuse eating unfamiliar foods.
- Peer influences: When children see their peers expressing dislike of a certain food, they might be influenced and not willing to eat that certain food.
- Developmental stages: When they are in the development stage, they become picky in eating due to the changes in their hormones.
- Stress and anxiety: Stress can be the main reason that can affect children’s eating habits.
Methods for Winning Over a Picky Eater
Choosy eating in children may distress many parents but keep in mind that it’s not permanent in most cases. Here are some methods how to deal with a picky eater child.
Empowering Choice and Involvement
Involve your children in meal planning, preparation, and even grocery shopping. Let your children choose from a variety of healthy options. Cook food together and use proteins, grains, and dairy to prepare healthy and tasty dishes. This strategy can result in more positive and healthy eating experiences, moreover, it fosters a sense of autonomy in children.
Exploring Food Variety
Try out new recipes and new foods. Let your child explore the different flavors, smells, textures, and colors. It helps them manage different textures and tastes better and it can be a way to encourage children to expand their diet. You can try various cooking methods like roasting, grilling, and boiling in addition to making different sauces and dips.
Managing Preferences and Dislikes
While respecting your child’s food preferences, encourage them to try new things. Provide a variety of nutritious options for each meal and incentivize them to eat. Introduce new foods gradually and in small portions.
Positive Reinforcement and Role Modeling
Be a positive role model when dealing with a picky eater toddler. For example, you can express your enthusiasm and enjoyment when you are trying out new foods. It conveys that trying new recipes is fun and rewarding.
Whenever your child tries a new food, even just a small taste, praise them and give them positive feedback.
Seeking Professional Guidance
If your child continues to struggle with picky eating, it might be necessary to seek professional help to learn how to prevent picky eating in children. You can consult with pedestrians or nutritionists to get results.
Utilizing a Parental Control App
Most children are active internet users and have an account on most platforms and apps. Overusing the Internet and increasing screen time can result in stress and anxiety in children. Stress can affect children’s food diet negatively and makes them reluctant to eat food. In other words, children turn into picky eaters.
What’s the best solution to address this problem? Parents can use a parental control app to manage their children’s online activities and limit their usage of mobile phones and the internet. Moreover, they can help their children to have a balanced and healthy diet.
Parents can use the default parental controls on their child’s device such as Android parental controls or iPhone parental controls. Setting boundaries and limitations on the usage of devices and social media applications can be done by using Safes. Safes is a parental control app available on iOS and Android, that allows you to:
- Limit screen time
- Instantly block all apps
- Set schedules for individual apps
Overall, children become fussy in eating when they are in their developmental stages, and this is pretty common. We mentioned some tips to learn how to deal with extremely picky eaters. Managing preferences and dislikes, exploring food variety, being a positive role model, and empowering choices and involvement are examples of what was mentioned above.