Picky eaters? We know ‘em. Finding it difficult to get creative with new ingredients and mealtime? Us, too. So, how are we supposed to raise a future foodie who will *actually* eat something other than buttered noodles and prevent picky eating?
As parents, we know it can be tough to get your child to eat a variety of foods without a meltdown, so we reached out to our friend Genna Ricotta, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist and Director + Founder of Small Steps Speech and Feeding, to give us some quick tips on how to conquer those picky palates of our little ones!
- Be open minded—showing positivity and excitement to your kids around food is key. Make mealtime fun—try dancing, singing, or playing music—and talk about food in positive ways away from the dinner table.
- Include kids in food prep and grocery shopping—ask for their input in deciding between two vegetables and let them push their own kid cart!
- Be a food detective—talk about what it looks like, how it sounds (crunchy/quiet), what it feels like (hard, squishy), compare new foods to foods they are familiar with.
- No matter what feeding method you go with, expose kids early to new foods and flavors.
- Eat with your child—often we can’t do this as much as we’d like, but it’s worth trying to prioritize when you can as your little one will observe you eating the same foods and learn from it. Don’t turn eating into a power struggle—you will never win.
- Let kids get messy when they eat or even feed themselves, especially when they first start eating solids. This helps them experience the food with all their senses as well as letting them be in charge of what goes in their mouth so they learn how to regulate hunger cues.
- Offer new foods in different ways, like adding spinach to a smoothie instead of serving it raw.
- “Hide” veggies and other superfoods in meals—Little Spoon knows all about it! You can get peace of mind that your child is getting nutrition and still build healthy habits by including a present veggie on the plate like Little Spoon does in their meals.
- Be consistent—they might not take to a new food the first time (or two, or three), but sticking with it shows persistence and it can take 10-15 tries for a child to accept a new food.
- Don’t overfill– when we add too much, it can get overwhelming. Start with smaller portions, you can always refill if your little finds something they love.
- Add color to the plate—it will look way more appetizing and fun to eat, and will pack your babe’s plate with all the food stuff.
- Bribery is not your friend—desserts and snacks can be offered regularly in age-appropriate portions and shouldn’t be seen strictly as treats or rewards.
- Try the rule of one bite—even just one bite is a great start!