Question:My son is a picky eater and I’m worried he’s not getting proper nutrition. What steps can I take to make sure he maintains a healthy weight?
Answer: Most of us were picky about food at some point during childhood, hence your son’s choosiness is likely normal. Some kids may have had a bad experience with a certain food, others may be sensitive to texture, taste or smell, and some are just plain cautious about trying something new.
Before mealtime, there are some steps you can take to make food more exciting.
Let your son help with the grocery shopping and meal planning, so he has input into what’s served. Also, you can invite him to help prepare meals by giving him age-appropriate tasks as mixing a salad or measuring ingredients.
Also, don’t overwhelm him with options at mealtime. Before you start preparing, give him two choices that meet with your approval and let him select the one to be served at mealtime.
The environment you create for mealtime can also encourage healthy eating. Eat meals together so that you can model healthy behaviors.
Remove distractions like television and cell phones during mealtime, and don’t force food, this will only cause stress for you and your son; your son is more likely to eat in a relaxed atmosphere.
Share positive memories of food, such as holiday gatherings or your childhood experiences, and make the meal fun by using colorful or themed serving ware.
Kids love tiny foods, so consider serving baby carrots, mini pancakes, grape tomatoes or baby potatoes as finger foods. Always offer a food at least 10 times over a 6-month period before taking a break for six months.
Try a “one-bite rule.” Anytime a food is prepared encourage your son to take one bite; if he does not like it, then he does not have to eat it, however when that food is prepared again encourage him to take one bite, again. His taste buds might appreciate the food as he gets older.
Talk with your pediatrician at your son’s annual well-child appointment about his eating habits. Your pediatrician can monitor his weight and give you additional advice to encourage him to expand his food interests, or refer you to a dietitian for support.