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4 Ways to Help Toddlers Push Past Picky Eating

by Marnie Bii | November 30th, 2015 | Development, Infants/Toddlers

toddler eating (400x400)With the terrible twos comes the incredibly frustrating picky eater stage. Your toddler may refuse to even try the smallest bite of food that looks, smells or tastes different from expectations. If you give into this stage, your child may remain a picky eater through adulthood. Thankfully, you can utilize the following tips to help your toddler open up to a journey through the culinary world.

Let Your Toddler Help in the Kitchen

You can skirt around pickiness by allowing your toddler to help prepare snacks and meals. Toddlers are much more willing to eat food they prepare themselves. Toddlers can help wash fruit and veggies, mix ingredients and even slice up soft food with a butter knife. Make sure to obtain a steady footstool to help your toddler see and use the kitchen counter space. You can also have your toddler work at the dining room table instead. Talk to your kiddo about each step of the preparation and cooking process to start building their culinary knowledgebase and skill set.

Introduce New Foods Daily

Toddlers need time to adjust to new foods’ taste, texture, smell and appearance. You can help your toddler learn to accept new foods by placing them on the plate on a daily basis. Bring in a brand new ingredient at least once a day to help your toddler broaden his or her horizons. Resist the urge to only serve up well-loved favorites, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or macaroni and cheese. Instead, split the plate 3/4 and 1/4 with foods you know your toddler likes and new additions, respectively. Encourage your child to take at least one bite of the new foods each time they are served.

Utilize Fun Utensils and Dishes

Increase the fun factor of the meal to encourage your toddler to eat new foods. Toddlers will love picking finger foods off a plate shaped like a truck or princess castle. You can also utilize divided plates to keep all of the foods separate. Picky eaters will often refuse to eat foods or sauces that touch or mix together. Introduce eating utensils, like sporks and pushers, to help reduce frustration during mealtimes. When toddlers can easily scoop the food off the dish and into their mouth, many will skip the intense scrutinization that leads to rejection of new foods.

Model Good Eating Behaviors

Your toddler is watching your behaviors and reactions all the time to learn how the world works. If your toddler sees you picking apart food or avoiding certain ingredients, he or she will emulate those behaviors, leading to rejection of that dish. To encourage your toddler to put aside the picky behaviors, you can try new ingredients alongside your tot. As you approach each new dish, talk yourself through the process aloud. Your toddler will benefit from participating in a discussion about the foods’ texture, taste, appearance and smell. Encourage your toddler to critique each food like professional food critics on cooking competition TV shows.

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