Help! My child is a picky eater, what now?

Mijn kind is een moeilijke eter

Brussels sprouts, endive, or broccoli: the most hated vegetables by children. But don't worry, as they grow older, they begin to appreciate different types of foods more and more. But what if your child is a picky eater?

When is a child a picky eater?

There are no hard rules for when a child is a "picky eater" because every child is different and may react to food in different ways. Some children are naturally picky and only eat a limited number of foods. On the other hand, some children are more adventurous and enjoy trying new things. When children refuse to eat or only eat a limited number of foods, we often refer to them as picky eaters.

Why is my child a picky eater?

There are several reasons why children may be picky eaters. This can include boredom, as children may become bored if they are constantly presented with the same foods or resistance to eating. Unhealthy eating habits, such as consuming a lot of sugars and snacks, can also lead children to not choose healthy options quickly. Although giving a treat is an easy way to keep children quiet, it should not be done too often. Research also shows that being a picky eater is genetically determined. So don't feel guilty as a parent if your child doesn't want to eat.

Okay, so parents can't always do anything about it when their child is a picky eater. But it remains an unpleasant situation for both parent and child. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help children who are picky eaters:

  • Provide a varied selection of healthy foods. Try offering new foods and continue to do so, even if your child refuses to eat them at first. Children may need time to get used to new foods, so in this situation, perseverance pays off.
  • Involve your child in cooking and grocery shopping. When children are involved in making their own meals, they are more likely to eat them.
  • Don't force anything. Forcing or punishing will probably only lead to resistance and a worse eating experience. By associating negative emotions with eating, you only make the situation more complex. A complete no-go!
  • Make healthy foods appealing by presenting them in a fun way. For example, use fun shapes to cut the food or create a nice pattern on the plate.
  • Make mealtime a positive and relaxing moment for the whole family! Create a comfortable, quiet atmosphere without distractions such as television or mobile phones. By eating together as a family and chatting about your day, you take the pressure off mealtime. This makes it easier for picky eaters to start eating.
  • Be patient. It can sometimes take time for a child to get used to new foods. Keep offering and try not to give up too quickly, even if you're at your wit's end.

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