Here are tips and ideas to help you and your child when they are picky with their food:
1. Eat with them. Mealtimes are opportunities for you to bond and spend time with your child. It’s also a chance to be a positive role model for them by eating a new food and showing them how it’s eaten and talking about its characteristics (e.g. taste, texture, temperature). Try not to label foods as good or bad but talk about their properties instead. By eating together, you are also exposing them to other foods that might not be currently in their diet.
2. Serve new food alongside familiar food. Let your child explore the new food by smelling it, touching it or licking it. Don’t force them to take a bite, they will do so when they are ready to. Don’t give up in exposing new foods, it often takes time for them to accept something new.
3. Be creative! Some children do not like the look of certain foods and find them off-putting.You can try changing the shape or colour to make food more appealing. For example, you can use a cutter to fashion carrots or cucumber slices into cute looking different shapes (e.g. stars, animals).
4. Let them be your helpers. Engage them in other food-related activities (e.g. choosing food at the supermarket, washing fruits and vegetables) and this will let them interact with and familiarize themselves with new foods in different ways other than eating it.
5. Reward them the right way. Don’t use desserts or sweet treats as a reward for trying new foods. By giving desserts as a reward, we are teaching them that desserts are better than other foods and this will increase their desire for sweet food. You can instead use verbal praise or stickers to let them know that they have done well.