Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Style & Wisdom Mama: How To Avoid Picky Eating
I know I'm only a mama to a 12 month old (and kids don't tend to get picky until they are older) but I thought I'd share a few tips I've picked up from our pediatrician and other moms of older kids on avoiding picky eating. I must admit that my baby eats just about anything I put in front of him, but at his 12 month check-up the other day, the doctor gave me some tips on how to avoid picky eating in the upcoming months.
--Don't make "separate meals" for your kids. I always let Noah eat whatever meal we are having as a family. When you make a separate meal for your baby, it may make them think that they don't need to be eating what the rest of the family is eating. This could become a routine that gets hard to break once the picky eating stage comes about.
It's important to never introduce junk to them, especially for dinner. Sometimes we think our kids will like "classic" kids foods (which are the things we see on kids menus at restaurants) like pizza, chicken nuggets, or mac & cheese, but they should have a balanced diet just like the rest of us should be striving to get--fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, etc.
--Setting an example. One of the best things you can do for your little ones is make an effort to grow stronger every day, just like they are. A healthy mama is a mama who her child can look up to for inspiration, for advice, and as a person who they can always feel safe and "at home" with. You can't be this person unless you strive to be this person. Show your kids what a healthy lifestyle instead of just encouraging them to do it.
I try to show N that I am eating the same healthy things as him. If he's having yogurt, I will usually have yogurt, too. If he has a banana, I'll have a banana, etc. I know this one is hard because I have a niece who is a picky eater and even if she sees the adults around her eating healthy food, it doesn't do anything to persuade her. But, if you have an older picky eater on your hands (and lord knows, it may happen to me, I just am trying to avoid it at all costs) it's a good idea to still have real foods around and continue to make meals so kids still see the routine and can at least try new foods. Which brings me to my next point...
--They don't have to like it, but they do have to try it. If you have a picky eater on your hands already, make it a rule that they don't have to eat things they don't like, but they do have to try it. I actually got this tip from Meg from the WhatsUpMoms Youtube channel, and I think it's great advice. You never know, your kiddo might just like something you forced them to at least try. Another good practice might be to have them explain why they don't like it and "it's gross" or "I just don't want it."
--Don't be afraid to be a parent. One of the things that I found the most difficult about becoming a mother is how guilty I felt about everything. I went back to work six weeks after giving birth and I felt guilty about that. I feel guilty every time N gets shots. Let's just say I feel guilty every time N cries or needs to be disciplined. But, kids need structure and they need rules. The reason why I bring this up is because sometimes food becomes a way to entertain, reward, or calm a toddler down. The first time I gave N ice cream, he went crazy because he loved it so much and I had to cut him off. He cried, but ice cream is a "once in a while" food. Now, he only gets ice cream after doctor's appointments. But it's okay to take junk food away from a kid no matter how much they cry.
--Get sneaky. Smoothies seem to be the way to trick your toddlers & kids into eating just about anything. We have green smoothies every other day in our house and N drinks more than I do because he loves it so much. It tastes like a dessert because of the fruit we put in it, but really, it's full of kale, dandelion greens, spinach, and cucumbers.
Another good "trick" is to give your kiddo buckwheat pancakes instead of regular pancakes for breakfast. If you start them young, they'll never even know what hit them by the time they reach the stage of understanding what they are eating!
--If they really hate something, don't beat yourself up--there are plenty of other healthy foods. Since the beginning of weaning off of breastmilk and starting solids, N has LOATHED peas. I mean, he hates 'em with a passion. I tried every brand. I even tried to give him real peas once he began eating table foods and he threw every last one of them onto the floor. So, I stopped giving him peas. I didn't keep trying to offer them to him. I offered him different green vegetables.
Image Credit: Today's Parent