Dear Mommies & Daddies,
I know how you feel: I know the frustration, joy, determination and how hard you all try to feed your youngins whole, healthy foods. And don’t give up! Let’s see what we can explore together to help each other. I am happy to say that many filed into the virtual cooking class “Expanding Your Family’s Palate by Placating Picky Eaters,” last week to share tips and tricks.
The class was led by little ole me, and my friends Kimberly Coleman and Kelsey Banfield. The class focused on methods for getting picky eaters out of their food ruts – along with offering up plain old encouragement for worried parents.
Below is a summary of the online discussion with quotes from the participants and co-hosts.
Picky Eating is Normal – Don’t Stress!
“From my experience as a dietitian, if a child is going to become picky, it will probably kick in around age two. Picky eating is normal,” said participant Liz Weiss. “Best to downplay it and keep offering a healthy variety of foods over and over again. Presentation is key. Eye and texture appeal can make a big and positive difference.”
Stacie Billis at One Hungry Mama had an interesting series of points about picky eating:
– There’s an evolutionary explanation for some picky phases. (some phases come at times of increased mobility, when baby might be exploring places without mama or papa immediately nearby to protect them. Pickiness, natural skepticism of new foods, prevented the cave baby from putting just about anything – like a poisonous berry – in baby’s mouth)
– Some kids have limited palates because of the way they are fed for the first few years of life (kids who are raised on bland and overly sweet processed cereals and packaged baby food can’t be expected to suddenly have a taste for fresh broccoli and cauliflower!)
– Sometimes it’s a developmentally appropriate power struggle (food is one of the few things over which baby can exert control and it’s important that they experiment with this)
“These are not things that can be turned around quickly,” she said. “Rather, it’s a slow process with the goal of helping kids develop healthy eating habits that will sustain them a lifetime.”
Just Try It
Many participants use the “one-bite rule” to get their kids to try a food before simply refusing it.
“Our rule is you just need to take a full size bite, chew, swallow and then say, ‘Yes, please’ or ‘No, thank you,’” said host Jennifer Leal, Savor the Thyme.
Co-host Dara Michalski, Cookin’ Canuck, agreed, but said, “We actually have the 3-bite rule. I think kids are likely to refuse the food on the first bite if it’s something new. If they take a few extra bites, they often end up liking it.”
And Keep Trying It
“Always introduce food several times in several forms,” said host Kelsey Banfield, The Naptime Chef. “Kids will pick up on it eventually.”
“It can take upwards of 6-10 tries for a child to accept a new food – so it’s super important to the course by repeatedly serving healthy foods (openly!) and modeling eating them, too,” added Stacie Billis. “Even when they say they don’t like them!”
Liz Weiss added, “And sometimes it’s the texture that makes all the difference. As tastebuds change and mature, so may tolerance to certain textures.”
and finally: As co-host Brooke put it, “When all is said and done, the fact of the matter is some kids just need time … A combination of clever ideas, never giving up, and lots of patience always tends to win out in my book. Good luck!”
What are some of your successful tactics for getting your picky ones to eat what you serve?