Re: Feeding Fussy Preschoolers
posted at 4/9/2013 6:49 PM EDT
I've got a picky eater, and one who eats everything. I've raised them both the same way, so try not to drive yourself too crazy.
One thing that has worked well for me is to focus on the "Trying" instead of the eating. It takes the pressure off a bit, and lets you focus on progress instead of "failures." Getting my LO used to just trying new things made a big difference in expending his palate down the road.
Cooking together can be fun, and a little less stressful if you prepare the measurements ahead of time so they just have to dump and mix. We make stuff like individual quiches in a cupcake pan (mix and pour the eggs, then let them add shredded cheese, etc). Very simple, and the individual servings are handy later.
In addition to cooking, I recommend shopping together. Enlist a second adult so it's less hectic, and take both kids to the store. Let them explore the food options and see what appeals to them, you may be surprised. I'd recommend doing this in a Whole foods if you can, because it's sort of hard to find unhealthy options there (Not that I judge treats, I LOVE treats, but it can be a distraction for this exercise). Also, they have kid size carts, which make it kind of fun.
Also, our local grocery store has a substantial prepared foods section, so I take the kids and say, you have to eat 3 veggies, which would you like to pick? They may be more inclined to eat stuff they picked out. Plus, the prepared foods are a great way to try a little bit of a new food, so you don't get frustrated by the time and expense sunk into something they won't eat. If you just buy one chunk of tofu, a few beans etc, it's not expensive at all.
I don't work for Whole Foods or anything, I shop at Shaws and Trader Joes too, It just works for me in this case. Also, summer is coming, and Farmer's Market's can be a great place to get kids interested in some new foods. The vendors are usually really happy to talk about their farms, and sometimes give a free sample.
I've had some success with a "this then this" approach. So I say, totally casually "if you eat your veggies you can have ice cream, it's up to you." I think of it less as a bribe, but as giving them the power to make the choice, and making it less adversarial. But it's important to be act cool when you do it.
One friend swears her kid will eat anything off of toothpicks, and another swears by dipping. I've never had success with either, but may be worth trying.
Remember, they won't starve themselves, this will pass. Try to stay calm (even though it can be SO frustrating), to avoid making food or mealtime a "thing." Good luck, it will definitely get better.