Inside: Picky eating in kids can be stressful for parents! Read on to find out what to feed your picky eater so you can ensure they’re getting their calorie and nutrient needs!
Picky eating in kids is common, but that doesn’t make it easy. It can be stressful for parents who worry about whether their kids are getting enough nutrients. However, over concern from parents can lead to power struggles in kids, making them more likely to be combative or picky.
Are you wondering what to feed your picky eater so you can ensure they’re getting their calorie and nutrient needs?
On May 5th, 2021, Allison Tallman, registered dietitian and co-founder of Nourished Routes, LLC. will host a live “Nutrition for Picky Eaters” webinar with Board Certified General Pediatrician, Dr. Mona Amin.
During this webinar, you’ll learn common nutritional concerns for picky eaters, as well as taste preference development and how to hide veggies in food! This is great for any mothers who would like to reduce stress and help their picky eater eat healthier.
Tickets are available now at this link!
What to Feed Your Picky Eater (+ FREE Child Nutrition PDF!)
Before we get started, rest assured that your child is likely getting the calories and nutrients they need throughout the week. However, if this is something you’re concerned about, then you can keep a food log of what they eat over the period of a week.
Focus on providing balanced meals throughout the week, rather than trying to make every day perfect – this will ease some of your stress while still ensuring your kiddo is getting the food they need to continue growing!
With that being said, here are six ways that you can help figure out what to feed your picky eater
1. Making a grazing tray
For active and energetic toddlers, snacking throughout the day may work better than structured meal times. Use an ice cube tray, muffin tin, or other board to make grazing trays that the kids can nibble on throughout the day.
Young children do a great job of regulating their own hunger, so you don’t need to worry much about them overeating on snacks – if they aren’t ready to eat, they won’t!
Cut up some celery, carrots, apples, bananas, cheese cubes, hard-boiled eggs, and some cereal in bite-size portions and put them on an easy-to-reach table that kids can revisit as they feel the need to snack. Be sure to return things to the refrigerator after 2 hours to avoid foodborne illness!
2. Offer dips
Kids love dipping and dunking their food into tasty dips. They’ll enjoy the textures and flavors (and getting to make a bit of mess), and you’ll feel better knowing they’re getting their required fruits and veggies.
Kid-friendly dips include peanut and nut butter, yogurt dip, cottage cheese, tofu dip, guacamole, fruit preserves, and the ever-loved ranch dressing – which you can healthify by buying versions made with greek yogurt!
3. Use tasty toppings
Broccoli with cheese on it is still broccoli.
Kids love toppings, and adding tasty toppings to nutritious foods your picky eater wouldn’t otherwise eat is a great way to entice them! Cheese and melted cheese, greek yogurt, peanut butter, guacamole, apple sauce, and tomato sauce are some generally accepted toppings kids might enjoy.
Adding their favorite fruit into oatmeal along with a couple of chocolate chips can help your kiddo eat more oatmeal – and cheese on veggies is always a welcome addition.
4. Make smoothies
If your kid struggles eating plain yogurt, fruit, or veggies on their own, try adding them to a smoothie. Sometimes kids may be more willing to drink something than to eat it, and by blending ingredients together you can ensure your toddler is still getting in plenty of healthy foods in a way they’ll enjoy.
Add fruit, veggies and greens, honey, yogurt, avocado, peanut butter, and 100% juice to smoothies. Give kids a fun bendy straw, and feel confident that they’re enjoying some healthy foods!
5. Serve tried-and-true foods
There are some foods that even the pickiest eaters usually enjoy and will happily eat. Nutritious foods that are generally well-accepted by young kids include:
- Pasta – use whole wheat versions for extra nutrients!
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
- Steamed broccoli
- Greek yogurt – flavored versions are OK, try to pick brands with less sugar
- Kidney beans
In addition, preparation plays a big role in a child’s willingness to eat food. Try using cooking methods that reduce the smell of food, such as roasting or stir-frying broccoli rather than steaming or boiling it.
Knowing what your toddler prefers can also be key. For example, do they prefer soft or crunchy foods? Are they a fan of flavor, or do they prefer blander foods? Knowing what your child will respond best to can help guide you in preparing other foods.
6. Don’t put dessert on a pedestal
Offering dessert as a reward for eating “healthier” foods leads to kids putting dessert on a pedestal and thinking desserts are better. Make eating sweets something special and demonstrate moderation.
Instead of desserts, try serving snack-size bites, fun and yummy dips!
Final thoughts on What to Feed Your Picky Eater (+ FREE Child Nutrition PDF!)
Feeding picky eaters can be challenging, but patience, clever preparation and plating can go a long way.
Remember, parents are responsible for what is eaten – the child is responsible for if, when, and how much. Encourage picky eaters to try a bite or two of new food without forcing, and respect their ability to regulate their own hunger and fullness.
If you are worried your child’s picky eating is impacting their growth and health, consult their pediatrician. Picking eating won’t go away overnight, but most kids do eventually grow out of it as they and their tastes mature.