Feeding a picky eater can be one of the most stressful things a parent has to do. It’s frustrating, worrisome, stressful, annoying, disappointing and downright exasperating at times. It can be really easy to just throw your hands in the air and give up trying to get your picky eater to eat new or healthy foods. After serving something three or four times and having your child refuse to even give it one nibble it might feel like you’ve given it your best shot and it’s time to move on.
But did you know that it can take at least 10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted? That number grows for very picky eaters so the message I want to share with you is not to give up too soon! It’s also important to note that I said exposures, which doesn’t necessarily mean bites of food are even eaten. An exposure might be touching the food, smelling it, licking it. Interacting with new or non preferred foods is building helpful steps towards eating them. Slow and steady is the key when you are training taste buds. I speak from experience; it took me two years to learn to like peppers.
Getting back to the 10 exposures, it is very easy for the 6th or 7th time to feel like a million when you are trying to get your child to try a new food, so it’s really important that you actually keep track of how many times you have offered a new food. Relying on your memory isn’t usually effective for us busy parents!
This chart is really easy to use, just choose the new foods you’d like your child to keep trying and write them on the left hand side. Each time your child tries that food they can write a check mark or draw a happy face in that box. If at the end of 10 exposures your child is still not able to eat the new food, take it off the menu temporarily and try something else for a while. Don’t make a big deal about it simply say that you will try again when they are a bit older. This way you can feel good knowing that you and your child both tried your best and that it’s okay to move on.
Keep in mind when you are working on a certain food to serve it in different ways because sometimes changing the texture can make a big difference for picky eaters. Take carrots for example, you can serve them grated thinly in a salad, as a soup, roasted, steamed or even in a fresh juice!
Be sure to celebrate your child’s willingness to keep trying – even if it’s just giving a cucumber a kiss! All those baby steps lead to big changes one day as long as you keep trying!
What is your best tip for feeding a picky eater?