Feeding a Picky Eater

Uploaded by Gerber on 08.12.2010

Hello, my name is Francesca Barrett. Do you have a picky eater on your hands? I do and
I'm here today to share some tips for helping your child have a more varied diet. They're
tips I learned from the experts at Gerber.
The first thing I discovered is that there really isn't a clear definition for picky
eating. Picky eating means different things to different people. For instance, some parents
would consider a child picky if he consistently limits the number of foods he'll eat, is unwilling
to try new foods, or shows strong preferences for certain foods. Generally, a child isn't
considered a picky eater if he occasionally won't finish his meal or refuses to eat a
meal or snack now and then.
Picky eating is often brought on by the emotional, physical and mental development that occurs
during the toddler and preschooler years.
Let's talk about some of these developmental changes.
When he's around 12 months old, your child starts to realize that he's his own person,
with his own thoughts and opinions. He may express this by rejecting the spoon when you
feed him or he may want to hold the spoon himself.
Toddlers and preschoolers learn they're different from you by doing the opposite of what you
want. Your child may say “no” to foods you offer him or refuse to sit at the table
during dinnertime. That may be his way of declaring his independence.
During the second and third years of life, growth slows and your child's appetite may
decrease accordingly. He may refuse to eat simply because he’s not hungry.
Toddlers and Preschoolers are also more aware of how foods look, smell, taste, sound, and
feel in their mouths. This can make certain foods suddenly unappealing. He may even spit
out the foods he loved as a baby.
Complex textures can be more challenging to eat, making mealtimes a frustrating experience.
Your child may discover that beef and chicken are sometimes hard to chew. He may reject
foods that seem to take too much effort.
So you can see that normal developmental changes can result in picky eating.But that doesn’t
mean you can't do anything about it. The key is to be patient and react in a positive way.
Let's go over some other ways you can help your child expand his diet.
Young children love to imitate others. That's why it's so important to model healthy eating
as a family. If your child sees his mom, dad, or siblings eating nutritious foods, he may
be more willing to try them himself.
Establish regular meal and snack times so he knows when to expect them. Most toddlers
and preschoolers need about three meals and two snacks a day. Don't let your child graze
all day. If you do, he won't be hungry for new foods at his regular meal and snack times.
Serve portions that are appropriate for your child's age. For instance, a Toddler portion
should be about one-fourth of an adult portion. Big portions can be overwhelming to a child,
especially if he's not hungry. Remember that his growth has slowed so offer small amounts
and let him ask for more if he's still hungry.
Be sure to include your child in family meals and try to keep those mealtimes calm. A young
child won't be interested in trying a new food if he’s distracted by the TV or the
family pet running around.
As he eats, be patient with messes and spills. If your child can't get the spoon to his mouth
without spilling, you may be tempted to take the spoon and feed him yourself. But doing
so doesn't allow your child to control what and how much eats, which are important steps
in becoming an independent eater.
Provide the right-size tools for his level of eating, such as child-safe spoons, forks,
and small, non-breakable bowls and cups.
When it comes to getting your child to try new foods, there are several things you can
do to help.
Don't prepare a separate meal for your child, but do plan meals that include at least one
food you know he'll eat. And then he can choose if he wants to try the other foods being served.
Remember that it's your job to decide what foods will be served and when. But it's your
child’s job to decide which of those foods to eat and how much to eat.
Let your child explore his food. He may need to look at, touch, smell, and taste the food
before he'll decide to eat it.
If he won't accept a new food the first few times, don't give up. Just be patient and
try it again later. It may take up to 10 tries before he accepts it.
Avoid bribing your child with food in order to make him eat. That teaches him that some
foods are desirable, and others are not.
Instead, get your child involved with meal planning. Let him help you measure out ingredients
or pick out a new vegetable or fruit at the grocery store and then help you wash it. Children
may be more willing to try foods if they've helped prepare them.