15 picky eater tips

Put an end to meal time battles! Try these 15 simple strategies from the Parenting Expert, Dr. Lawrence Cohen to make meal time more enjoyable for all

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Want to put an end to mealtime battles! Try these 15 simple strategies from the Parenting Expert, Dr. Lawrence Cohen.
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1. Play Dinnertime Games

When it's time to get supper ready, let your child play chef with you. Put on aprons and pretend you're cooks in a restaurant. Make up silly names for dishes you're preparing and have some fun adding food coloring to mashed potatoes or other foods. If your child is invested in making the meal, he or she may be more likely to eat it.
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2. Change the Topic

Avoid real arguments at dinner by making up something unimportant to "pretend argue" about. For example, "Let's see if we can get through a whole dinner without anyone saying the number seven!" Of course your kids will shout out that number, and you'll pretend in a silly way to be very upset. While they laugh and play, they may eat up their dinner without a fuss.
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3. Give Kids More Control

Some children choose mealtimes to fight battles about independence and self-determination, so giving them some (limited) control over the weekly menu could alleviate some of that tension. Also, don't give kids too many choices. Keep their choices simple and making it clear that their choices are limited
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4. Change the Choice

You can give kids non-menu control over dinnertime, too. For example, keep colorful plates and placemats on hand let your kids choose which one they want to use for each meal.
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5. Let Them Choose Something Other than Food

Give your picky eater some control over situations in other parts of the day, like selecting what to wear to school and choosing what games to play with you.
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6. Don't Play Favorites

Try not to get into the habit of making kids their favorite foods every night--out of desperation to get them to eat! It's wonderful to put our love into cooking for our family, but it doesn't work to cook a child's favorite food as "proof" of that love.
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7. End Special Meals

Research on family mealtime suggests that if a child is given the food that everyone else eats, and is matter-of-factly expected to eat it, then they end up eating what the family eats.
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8. Pick Your Battles

Think in broad terms when setting down rules, for example, you might try telling him that you are only going to make macaroni and cheese once a week as a special treat. Have alternative options available for the rest of the week.
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9. Think Holistically

Think about your child's diet in terms of the week rather than meal by meal. If she gets a decent amount of good food on a weekly basis, it is perfectly fine if she one meal that consists of one noodle or one pea!
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10. Supplement as Needed

Consider supplementing your child's diet with a children's multivitamin. Reduce in-between-meal snacks so your child is more likely to be hungry at mealtimes.
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11. Don't Fret About Their Weight

Unless you child is actually losing weight or getting sick from not eating, do not get overly concerned about his weight. If you are really concerned about your child not eating enough, see your pediatrician, he may suggest a visit to a nutritionist for help.
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12. Encourage Experimentation

There is a difference between a child who is reluctant to try anything new or different and a child who has a well-established dislike for one or two foods. It isn't torture to expect kids to try a taste of a new food every few months, but don't insist kids eat things they absolutely can't stand.
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13. Hate Is Merely Fear

Your child may say that they "hate" something they've never tried. This is a way for them to let you know that they don't want to venture beyond their two or three safe foods. Do you best to convince the otherwise.
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14. Set "Don't Like" Limits

Try this simple mealtime rule: kids don't have to eat what they "hate", but they are only allowed to hate a few things. In other words, they can hate peas and carrots, but they can't hate broccoli too, or the squash that they've never tried.
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15. Be Persistent

Keep offering the foods that are on your regular dinner menu rotations. By sheer repetition, these foods will become familiar, and kids will eventually try them and possibly like them.
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