Raising a Curious Eater….Tips for Addressing Selective Eating in Young Children
Have a picky eating toddler at home? Here are some tried and tested suggestions from one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who is the Mom of 3 year old jack.
Curiosity Tip #1
Try involving them in the process of growing your food. Start with something simple like lettuce greens, carrots, or cherry tomatoes. Involve them in the process of choosing the seeds or plants, planting, and maintaining them. Kids ages 2.5-3 years old can assist in the digging of the hole, watering, and making name tags on popsicle sticks. Make it a part of your daily routine to check on the plants and watch them grow. Kids will enjoy watching the different stages of plant growth and harvesting the fruits or vegetables.
*Did you know? SNAP benefits can be used to purchase seed packets at the store.
Curiosity Tip #2
Get your kids involved in the kitchen. For my son it was the moment he was able to stand on his own. I used a kitchen safe helper stool/tower that put him securely standing at my height while he watched me cook. He didn’t do much assisting himself but he did get to watch me prepare, cut, and cook ingredients and of course be my taste tester along the way. Click here for an infographic of the various tasks that kids can be involved in and at what age is appropriate.
Curiosity Tip #3
Frequent food exposure is key. Experts say kids need to see or be exposed to food 15-20 times before they try or enjoy the food. So this means don’t give up if the food is rejected after a couple of tries. Instead try to offer a new food alongside a food your child is already comfortable with. We like to add new fix-ins to our pancake recipe such as frozen blueberries, mashed banana, and shredded carrots. Check out one of our new favorite recipes called Carrots Pancakes from OSU extension services.
Curiosity Tip #4
Keep mealtimes enjoyable and family centered. This means trying to eat meals together as a family and leaving the technology (phones, tablets and tvs) for later use. A meal doesn't have to be home cooked to be enjoyed together. Any food can be savored as a family as long as you're sitting amongst each other. Try to avoid bringing any negative attention to a picky eater and instead encourage through play and parental modeling (you eating and enjoying the food alongside your little one).
Don’t forget that selective eating is a normal developmental stage of childhood. And like many stages of toddlers it will pass in time.
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This blog is co-authored by Synergy's team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Licensed Massage Therapists, and Diabetes Educators practicing in Bend, Oregon. As providers following Health at Every Size® (HAES) and Body Trust® philosophies, they strive to help EVERY BODY thrive.