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We have several little picky eaters in our family.
At what age do kids outgrow this stage? Did you do anything special to help your child learn to eat a more diverse variety of foods?
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This is so hard as a parent! I find with my little one that if she doesn't eat well at night due to being picky, then we will have her awake throughout the night. I've found that providing 2-3 choices on a plate with a mix of bland and colourful usually works. Some nights my daughter will only eat the bland pasta with no sauce and other nights she will eat the soft avocado and beans with sauce. As long as she has choice, but not too much choice, we seem to get some food into her! I have also found that making food into funny shapes like dinosaur pasta or bread cut into hearts gains her interest in trying new foods as well.
Some children are just naturally more particular with foods than others. In our house we always offered our kids everything we were eating. Our rule was that you needed to taste everything but we never forced them to eat things they didn't like. Sometimes that 'taste' might have been a simple lick of a spoon and that was fine. We have found that over time the kids get used to new flavors and things that they previously would only 'taste', they began to eat. Continuing to offer foods and expose them to new flavors will help develop their palate and meal times don't need to be a constant fight. Good luck.
Some kids are picky eaters due to sensory sensitivities and they might find certain tastes or textures too much. I think its always important to assess whether this is the case as if there is an issue, you may need to take a different approach to adding foods to the menu and an occupational therapist will be able to help you with that.
In other cases it might be that certain kids just prefer bland or unexciting foods. For many years, my daughter was not picky when it came to what we ate at home, but if we went out to dinner there were only a few menu items that she would be comfortable choosing from. As she got older though, she slowly became a more adventurous eater of her own accord and without any pressure.
I have found that including kids in meal choices and meal prep can encourage them to try new things. You can also try using different cooking methods for example your child may not like baked potatoes, but if they are mashed or roast they will eat them. Roast veggies might be more palatable than boiled, and your child might eat finely diced mushrooms but refuse to eat them if they are more "visible". In my home, stir-fries have been a great way to introduce new or unpopular vegetables to the menu, and if fresh fruit is turned down, maybe dried fruit is an option.
My 3-year-old daughter is such a picky eater. There was even a time when all she would for a day will be milk and bread. I feel bad about it but I settled because milk and bread are better than none, right? I still feel awful for having thought about that though. We visited our pediatrician after a few days and she gave us some appetite stimulants, which I think helped one way or the other.
I'd like to think that my daughter's situation was just a phase. She eats better now but of course, she eats much better when we give her her favorites. I still want to introduce a lot of fruits and vegetables but I am taking it one day at a time. I do not want to force her but I give her options in more creative ways on a daily basis.
Fortunately, my kids will eat (or at least try) just about anything. There are a few tricks that I have learned over the years that help me out.
My kids love "new" things...new to them doesn't necessarily mean you need to go above and beyond to create unique menus. For example, if they get bored with sandwiches, I'll mix it up and do turkey roll-ups (with wraps or lettuce) or even a DIY lunchable meal for them. Honestly, the sandwich roll-up idea is always a hit. They call it turkey sushi and go nuts with eating the same ingredients in different ways.
We do a lot of "choose your own" boards. Instead of making them plates for lunch, I put together a bunch of ingredients on a big cutting board. So, instead of a turkey sandwich, I might roll it up and put some crackers with it. I'll also add fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, etc. Then they are in charge of what they can eat. They can also say no to a few things and that's ok! The choices were there and they were in control (which I think is what they love about it).
One of the best tricks is just cooking with them. I'm always asking them for help or for their suggestions. They love being part of the process.
If you're really desperate, you can always sneak healthy food into their menus. The book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfield is an all-time favorite of mine.