If you’re like me and you have a picky eater on your hands I can understand the burden of stress you face daily as a mother… and the amount of time you’ve googled ‘tips for picky eaters’.
There are questions that run through your head 24/7, like: are they eating enough? Why won’t they try anything new? How could I let it get to this point?
The thoughts continue to pile on, as well as the guilt. And I know I’m not alone in this.
Life with a picky eater
My experience with my three-year-old’s eating habits has been anything but pleasant.
His eating took a turn for the worse about a year ago after a short illness, and he began to refuse all solids.
That’s a big no to vegetables, any sort of meat, and basically anything in-between.
He would only eat dry snacks like crackers or yogurt, both of which are still our go-to safe foods.
Although he was on track for his height and weight and seemed happy and healthy, I couldn’t help but worry about what he was eating every single day and whether he was getting the right nutrients.
So I decided to seek out a feeding therapist for advice.
As a parent, you want to be in control of every aspect of your child’s life.
But that doesn’t work when you have a picky eater.
Our therapist helped me navigate through my personal emotions, remove those from the situation, focus on what my son was trying to tell me, and encouraged me to stick to my boundaries of not pressuring him to try something he’s not interested in.
Although it was helpful, I was looking for more support, so I reached out to other women on Peanut and started taking part in their expert Q&As with nutritionists where I’d ask for tips for picky eaters. It was everything I needed.
The tricks I picked up and the encouragement I received finally helped me ease into the transition from pouches to solids with my son.
It took us a long time, but we got there.
Now, eighteen months on, mealtime is still stressful, but I’m finally understanding that this is an ongoing process for my family and my child’s picky eating won’t change overnight.
I’m still coming to terms with my own emotions so my son doesn’t feel the extra pressure.
It’s not always easy and some days I have to remove myself from the table to collect myself (I’m sure you’ve been there too!), but I have to remind myself that this won’t last forever.
My top tips for picky eaters
Every parent and every picky eater is different. But throughout our journey, I’ve picked up some really helpful tips from nutritionists, dietitians, and other mamas that might help you end your dinner-table battles.
1. Always serve a safe food. Make sure there’s something on the plate that your little one is guaranteed to eat.
2. Don’t force them. If they won’t try something new, forcing them will just cause extra stress for the both of you.
3. Let them help. Have your child wash the vegetables and get involved with cooking. The more exposure they have, the more likely they are to try.
4. Keep things small. Offer new foods in tiny quantities so they don’t feel as pressured. If they like it, they’ll ask for more.
5. Create a ‘no thank you’ bowl. This eliminates the risk of food ending up on the floor if they don’t like it.
6. Be consistent. Remember that exposure to new foods can take a lot of tries. Stick with it!
7. Parents provide, child decides. Your only job is to provide the food, it’s up to your child to decide what they want to eat. It might be nothing, and that’s OK!
8. Show your love for food Have healthy conversations about food and show your child it’s something you enjoy.
9. Hold your boundaries During temper tantrums, don’t give in and don’t stress. Toddlers are expected to only last six minutes at the table for a meal, and that’s OK.
10. Play it cool If your child decides to try something new, don’t react. Play it cool so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
You’ve got this, mama.