Does your kid struggle with eating a variety of food? Are they incredibly picky? Are you afraid they aren’t getting the nutrients they need?
The first and most importing thing is DO NOT make something separate for your kid. They eat what you are eating. The second thing you need to have for every meal is options. It can be two items or more. Just give them something to choose from. No one likes to be forced to eat something they don’t want to. The third thing to remember is your kid will eat when they are hungry.
The best way is to start them young. When they first start eating, give them a variety of different vegetables and fruits. You can even puree meats and pastas. It may not be as yummy as your food, but it will introduce your child to a new flavor. My daughter really loved the cinnamon flavor so you can even trying to add small amounts of spices and see if they like that.
Give your child a bunch of options at meal time (5-10 options0. This gives your child the power to choose what they are in the mood for. Maybe there is something they always eat. It’s important to take that away occasionally, because it gives them the opportunity to try something new. If there is something they never eat5, keep giving it to them as an option and one day they will try it. This method is highly recommended for school time lunches. Kids will try much more around friends
- After Eating Reward
- The kid gets a reward for eating all their food or trying something new. Make this reward something small like dessert, reading books on their own before nap, 5 minutes extra T.V. or tablet time, etc.
- Reward Jar
- Find a small jar and some marbles. Every time your kid finishes a meal or tries something new, add a marble to the jar. When you fill the hard, they get a big reward like movie day, water park, sleepover, trampoline, inflatable park, new toy, day with mommy/daddy, etc. You can have multiple jars with multiple possible rewards. Kids love games!
- Reward Charts
- They work the same way as reward jars except you have a chart. The cool thing about the charts is that you can decorate them with things that your kids love (Frozen, cars, unicorns, etc.). The one other good thing about reward charts is that there is a set number of meals they must finish or foods they need to try.
- Money Jar
- These are ideal for older kids. Have a jar and a bunch of change. Every time your kid tries something new or finishes a meal, you put a coin (nickel, penny, dime) in the har. When the jar is full, they can have the money. Alternatively, the money can be spent toward a family vacation.
These are very common for chores and behavior but a great way to help with eating is rewards.
Snack time is a great time to try new things. Give them a choice of what they can eat (apples and bananas). If they don’t eat one then save it for next snack so it can be reintroduced to them.
Try it Game!
Put a bunch of foods with a bunch of textures and have your kid lick them. Not eat them, lick them. It is less terrifying to lick something than to eat it. You can even take it to a new level and give them 1 pt for lick, 2 pts for taking a bite, 5 pts for eating it all. If you have multiple kids y’all can play a game. Whoever tries the most can pick dinner or something.
Kids can make huge messes and mess up meals on accident. Letting them help you cook their food will make them more interested in the food and will make them more likely to try it. They made it after all, so how can it be bad?
I hope these tricks help your kids eat more variety and relieves some of your stress regarding your kids’ eating habits.