Have you found yourself wanting to scream in frustration because you can’t figure out what your baby likes to eat? Every parent has been in this frustrating place at least a few times during their life. A baby who eats everything put on their plate is an ideal dream indeed. But there are ways to pique their curiosity to make them interested in their meal. What it calls for in a parent is a healthy dose of patience, topped with loads of creativity, a never say die attitude and the quintessential parenting survival trait– a sense of humour. So how do you deal with the pint-sized picky eater in your household? Here are some ideas that might help you!
1. Try anything once
Seeing a bowl of food they don’t want can put off a child very easily. A great way to make the magnitude of the meal look less overwhelming for them is to ask them to try just a spoon. This attitude of trying anything once will help your child overcome that initial reluctance to eat anything. Most of the time, they end up liking what is given and might actually have more than one spoon. So try it out and see whether it works for your little one.
2. Keep changing the menu
Being constantly surprised by your baby’s preference, when you do see something that they like, you might have a tendency to make that again as you may think your baby will like it. This is where all children are bound to surprise you. What your baby likes today may make them launch into a full-fledged tantrum tomorrow. So keep trying to work on options when you feed your baby and keep the variety going.
3. Visually interesting
Everyone including your little one who seems to not even take a second glance at the plate usually eats the food visually before actually tasting it. So be a little creative and make the food visually appealing to your baby. Arrange the noodles as the hair of a face you may make with carrots for the nose, a slice of tomato for the mouth and small olives for eyes. Unleash the artist in you and treat your baby’s plate as your canvas.
4. Package with what they like
If you are sure about a certain taste your baby has, try to package the meal with that taste. Like if you know they love the tang of a lemon, squeeze some lime on the carrot sticks you so want them to devour. It may work once in a while and it doesn’t hurt to try it. If they like things like noodles, try to incorporate some vegetable into a sauce. If you make the sauce with the vegetables they don’t mind eating but don’t like to see, you have won this round.
5. Make meal times fun
Try and have fun during meals as much as possible given how frustrating it might actually end up becoming. Allow your baby to feel the food if you think they might actually eat if they get to sense the texture with their hands or spoon. Have some set of rhymes dedicated for mealtimes and play them in the background to set the mood for meals. Stories are also great ways to engage your child while stealthily giving them a spoonful of food between all the engrossing details of your story.
6. Try to change flavours
If you see that your baby steadily refuses something that you would like them to have, like vegetables, experiment with different toppings like herbs, lemon, and yoghurt dips. Once of these options might actually click on your baby. So be creative while you persevere in making sure your precious little one gets that vegetable fix.
7. Involve child in food shopping and cooking
If your baby is old enough to understand, try to involve them in shopping and buying food supplies. This will make your baby excited about some items that they chose by themselves in the store. Getting them invested in making the meal might serve as a motivation point for them to eat the food. Get the rest of the family to compliment your baby on the wonderful choice of the food and ask them to eat in your baby’s presence. This social pressure will definitely make your baby also taste the food and eat it.
8. Set an example
Set an example by having your meal with your baby. Show them how you eat what is on your plate without making a fuss. Make chewing a fun activity and give them gentle appreciation when they chew their food. Getting your baby’s mind into activities related to eating will break down that wall of stubbornness that many picky eaters build as soon as they see food.
While engaging your baby during mealtimes is a good thing, keeping the environment free from distractions is also very important as picky eaters tend to take to doing other things just to escape the meal in front of them. Make mealtimes regular and choose a quiet calm place to give your baby their meal. Try to keep distractions like visitors or other engaging activities at a minimum so that the meal is completed in peace.
Though all the above tips are for picky eaters, most children go through phases in which they do not like to eat anything. While one trick may work one day, it may be met with stiff resistance on another day. So the only way to deal with the issue is to take one day at a time instead of getting overwhelmed by their tantrums. If the phase of not liking food continues for too long, it makes sense to consult a doctor to see if there is anything else that is bothering your baby like flatulence, stomach worms, etc. But for the majority of the time, the phase doesn’t last too long. Soon your baby will soon be hungry for their favourite food while you wonder whether this docile bundle of fun was the same person who threw the tantrum a while ago.