It's very common for young children to be picky about what they eat. Some are pickier than others, and may only have a list of five foods they will eat. If you’re looking for ways to help your child be adventurous at mealtimes, here are a few tactics you can try:

  • Maintain a positive attitude about mealtimes. Don't get frustrated with your child or make her feel badly for her pickiness. Don't ever force her to eat.
  • Offer one new food at a time, and make sure there is something on the plate that your child likes. Too many new foods at a time can be overwhelming.
  • Offer a new food to your child often. It may take a dozen or more introductions before he gives it a try.
  • Offer new foods at the beginning of the meal, when your child is most hungry.
  • Get your child involved in the dining process. Read cookbooks together and talk about what looks good. Have your child select some recipes that appeal to him.
  • Let your child be the chef. Give him age-appropriate tasks such as stirring, peeling vegetables or measuring.
  • Let your child make her own lunch. Give her cookie cutters to make her sandwiches with, and encourage her to decorate her lunch bag with stickers or drawings.
  • Make a smiley face out of fruits and veggies – blueberry eyes, orange slice ears, a celery nose, cucumber eyes and raspberry lips. Food that looks fun to eat is more appealing.
  • Be a good role model. Try new foods yourself, and make mealtimes fun, stress-free times with your family.
  • Try to eat together as a family at least twice a week. Sharing mealtimes strengthens family bonds – and if your child is chatting about her day, she may not notice that she also ate some peas.

Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD

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