Tag Archives for " mom tips "

4

Picky Eater Solutions

Regardless of how long it may seem that your child has been lingering in the world of “picky eaters,” it will get better. As adults, we have eating preferences, but I’ve never met an adult who only ate mac and cheese. Dinnertime used to be my most dreaded time of the day; simply because I felt I had become a short-order cook. Everyone ate something different, and a 30-minute meal took nearly an hour to prepare to accommodate all five of us. Today, I’m going to give you some practical tips that have worked for my family and many others. Regardless of what type of picky eater you have (texture, color, or flat-out refuses to try anything new), you must remember to not give up and that consistency is key. Now, if we could all get a note like this one!

  1. Feed your child when he is hungry. If you want to shoot for a 6 o’clock dinner time, don’t give your child a “light snack” at 4:30 pm. My grandmother always said that kids eat when they are hungry, and if they know a light snack is coming to hold them over, the likelihood of them eating dinner (especially something that may not be their favorite) is slim to none. My kids get a light snack when I pick them up from school and nothing else until dinnertime. I have found this to work over time, and they eventually learned to not ask for a snack at 5:15 pm. It’s important to mention that your kids will give you hunger queues, such as lingering around the kitchen, asking for snacks, or getting very whiny.
  2. Stick to a routine. I hear many parents complain about their evenings being activity filled, and dinnertime is chaotic and never at the same time. My answer: You either tackle your activities or your picky eater. A mom can only do so many things at one time. It’s that simple. Evening activities are non-negotiable at my house; it’s family dinner and evening routine. While I respect my friends who have all sorts of sport practices because that’s what they are choosing to do, I remind them that dragging the 3-year-old to everything and expecting to help her “get less picky” just won’t work. You have to choose your battles.
  3. Be patient with new foods. You serve your child something that looks great and tastes really good, but he refuses to eat it. Or, it could be a small side of corn you are introducing. Still no luck. Should you serve it again? Yes. Keep at it. One day, he may try it and like it. Sometimes, you might only get two bites, and they decide that they’ve had enough. That’s okay too. Praise, praise, praise. Two is better than zero.
  4. Make it fun. Serve broccoli or other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce (for my daughter, it’s ketchup or ranch). Some days, she eats one bite; other days, the carrots are gone. At least she tried.
  5. Give them options, but not too many. “Tonight we have broccoli or green peas. Which one are you going to eat?” This way, your child has some control over their environment (a big part of why kids are picky eaters), and they are eating something good for them the same time. My daughter does not eat fruit (seriously), so I either sneak it in or say that today’s snack is a smoothie. What color would she like her smoothie to be?
  6. Recruit their help. Getting kids involved doesn’t always mean in the kitchen. At the grocery, divide up the fruits and vegetables, and tell them that they each get to pick one fruit, one vegetable. They chose it, so there is not excuse not to eat it! My friend is lucky enough to not bring her kids to the store, so she has made up note cards of fruits and veggies, and each child selects one of each before she leaves. She adds their selection to the list.
  7. Start out slowly. My son has an issue with textures and won’t eat eggs (in any shape or form), so I make him French toast on our breakfast-for-dinner nights. Yesterday, he took TWO bites of scrambled eggs, then he had enough. I told him he did a great job with the two bites, and I moved on to something else.
  8. Make some adjustments. Monday, we all had red beans and rice for dinner. Again, I pulled out my handy chopper, and it became red bean dip. I sprinkled some cheese and served it with a couple of chips. They nearly ate the whole plate. As red beans and rice? No luck. With chili, it started out as chili dip; now it’s served from the pot.
  9. Set boundaries and food rules. Children are expert manipulators. For the longest time, they whined and cried for my husband to feed them, sit between them—you name it, they tried to pull it off. With me? No luck. I often start dinner before my husband gets home from work and have them sit with a treat while we eat. This way, they are still in the family “dinnertime” routine, but I can actually enjoy my food warm because I’m no longer feeding, cleaning up after, or encouraging my child to eat. We set a three-bite rule before they can say “no” to an item. Oftentimes, they have devoured the entire plate.
  10. Stay positive. This last one is perhaps the most difficult for a busy parent. At the end of the day, we oftentimes feel spent and running on reserve power. My friend Michelle says “nothing a glass of vino can’t handle.” I love that attitude. It reminds me that much of good parenting is about being encouraging, nurturing, and being flexible. You can do it!

If you missed part 1 (A texture problem) click here, if you missed part 2 (A color issue) click here! If you are ready to move on to part 4 (Action plan) click here!

photo source

For whiter teeth check out Sexy Smile Kit.

24

Picky Eaters: A Texture Problem

7 Mom TipsWelcome to the first of our four-part picky-eater mini series. We have received many e-mails with questions on how to help children overcome “stages” of picky eating. Is it a disorder? Is it temporary? What can I do to help my child? These are just a few examples of questions many parents have e-mailed us. Today, we’ll begin with the “texture” issue, one many parents have found difficult to overcome.

What is a texture issue? If your child will only eat soft or pureed foods, such as bananas, cream cheese, PB&J, yogurt, etc. Or, your child will only eat crunchy foods such as pretzels, carrots, chips, and apples. If your child has no signs of difficulty swallowing, teething pain, a sensory problem (difficulty being touched), or autism, think of this picky eating as temporary (otherwise, please consult your doctor). How long is temporary? What can you do to lessen the problem and move your child toward a more tolerant stage?

Research shows that if you can get kids to eat most foods by the time they are in high school, they will eat nearly everything by adulthood. My husband will not eat cold and crunchy (to this day), and I am happy with sprinkled Grape Nuts over Jello. Our kids? Picky eaters in every sense of the word. So, believe me when I tell you that I’ve tried everything in our household.

Here are seven MOM tips to help you if your child has “texture” issues:

  • Get your child involved in sensory activities. We’ve all heard the “get your child involved in cooking, and they are more likely to eat the food.” Well, that does not work on my uber-picky children. They are happy to help cook but not eat. Try instead: If you have a “crunchy” kid, get him involved in “soft” sensory activities such as play dough or a pudding board (see below). If you have a “soft” kid, try playing with textured items such as cooked spaghetti (older kids can “braid” the spaghetti or make knots). Another activity to try is gluing or coloring uncooked pasta onto a paper or board. With toddlers, the high chair is your friend; get them to play with food. The key is to familiarize the senses with the opposite texture.
  • Match food to their senses. My son doesn’t like crunchy anything or meat texture, so much of his food takes a trip through the mini food processor (another reason we suggest one in the MOMables store as a kitchen essential). Many foods get mixed with whipped cream cheese (to introduce taste slowly) or hidden in tomato sauce, and he eats lots of warm “dips.” Taco night? He eats “dip” and chips. Everything cooked that you’d put inside a taco is now a delicious dip! Want to have more sandwich options? Make chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad in a mini chopper; you’ll get a creamy consistency this type of kid tends to like. With a kid who complains about food being “slimy” or “squishy,” you need to modify items so they have the texture they need: crunch. Instead of mashed potatoes, try baked wedges or baked potatoes. Soups? Chunky. Sandwich fillers? Also chunky.
  • Reward your child. Set up a reward system. Give your child tokens, coins, or stickers for trying new foods—even if they only take one bite. They can trade them in for a new toy, an outing, or something they have been wanting for a long time. Your 10-year-old wants a new bike? Establish a price and a deadline (such as birthdays). The key is finding a reward system that will work for your child and sticking with it. Consistency is key. Once you find one new food they like, add slowly to their repertoire.
  • Give your child some control. Don’t ask: What would you like to eat? Instead, offer her two choices, no more. We have carrots or peas. Which one would you rather eat? Remind them that they only need to take two or three bites (depending on your rules). When asked open-ended questions, a child will always answer with a “safe” food.
  • Make sure your child is hungry at mealtime. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I know many parents who ruin it by offering their kid a snack around 4 pm, and then expect their kid to eat dinner at 6. Then, frustration builds up because he refuses to eat. Really? They are just not hungry enough. I’ve learned that my kids need at least 3 hours before they are willing to eat a non-favorite dinner; therefore, an after-school snack happens between car line and 3:30 pm.
  • Give your child free rein of the condiments. Whatever gets them to eat them at first is what has worked best. While there is a difference between half a bottle of ketchup and a tablespoon, I am not going to make a fuss if he eats his peas. Eventually, the food item goes into the “safe” list, and that’s one more MOM point for that texture.
  • Praise, praise, praise! No one told me that I would need to buy a set of pom-poms when I became a parent. The truth? We all like to be praised, even in the little things. Why should I expect my husband to tell me “the house looks nice” after 4 hours of tiding up, when I don’t praise my child for eating peas? Praising is an ongoing thing that reinforces the behavior we want to establish. After a while, this behavior becomes a habit.

Texture is one of those things that can really frustrate a parent. Everything we eat has different textures, and when you have more than one child, you can begin to feel like a short-order cook real fast! Go ahead, take the pledge, and try one or two of the seven tips. Remember, consistency is key, and soon your child will learn the rule and what’s expected, and he will begin to feel good about the eating process. Next week, we’ll continue this four-part series with the “color” problem.

So what’s next? How about issues with color. Click here to read part two in the picky-eaters mini series!

—Pudding Board:  Take a cookie sheet tray, and pour between 4 and 6 ounces of pudding. Let your child “draw” on there with his fingers. To erase, wiggle the pudding board and start over.

 

1 4 5 6
×
MENU