Is your kid a picky eater? You might be making it worse

Baystateparent Magazine
Lower levels of picky eating were associated with parents who impose few restrictions on food and a lack of pressure to eat.

Parents of children who are picky eaters could be making the problem worse according to a new study. Researchers at the Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that parents who demand that a child eat or restrict food are associated with some of the pickiest eaters, while lower levels of picky eating in children were associated with parents who impose few restrictions on food and a lack of pressure to eat.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, found that about 15% of the children in the study fell into the “high” picky eater group - children who didn’t accept vegetables often or were highly nervous about new foods.

Here are a few ways to help your picky eater to be more comfortable with new or nutritious foods:

- Make a schedule: Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child’s diet will be much more balanced and they will be less cranky, because they won’t be famished.

- Plan dinners: Try to plan two or three days worth of dinners at a time. A good dinner should be balanced: whole-grain break, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese or beans.

- Don’t become a short-order cook: Prepare one meal for everybody and serve it family-style so your kids can pick and choose what they want.

- Bite your tongue: Try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating and be as neutral as possible.

- Introduce new foods slowly: Sometimes kids’ taste buds have to get used to a flavor before they like the taste.

- Dip it: Experiment with condiments and dips for vegetables.

- Get kids cooking: If your children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve created.

- Cut back on treats: By having fewer junk foods around, you’ll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

- Have fun: Being more creative with meals and the greater variety of foods will gets your kids excited about the foods they eat.