How can I get a picky eater to eat?

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Answered by: Heather, An Expert in the For Picky Eaters Category
The best way to get a picky eater to eat is by making eating time fun. One way to make this time fun and memorable is by cutting certain foods into fun shapes and serve them with dinner. To help a picky eater not be so picky, also be sure your dinner is kid friendly. For example, if you know that your child absolutely loves hot dogs, make her a hot dog; if she eats her hot dog with ketchup, squirt the ketchup into a smiley face, serve it along with some macaroni and cheese, and star shaped canteloupe or apples cut like moons with caramel for dipping. If you are having chicken breast, after it is cooked cut it into star shapes, or any other shape you can get away with, stars are pretty easy though. A cookie cutter works great, you can get them at grocery stores or the dollar stores and they come with all types of different fun shapes, you could use that to cut any food into shapes, get creative, it gets a little difficult when you are dealing with cutting meats, and takes a little more time, but it is worth it when you see how excited your child will get when he or she gets their very own special plate.

Including snacks like fruit into dinner is a great way for your child to be excited about dinner and get them to eat healthy at the same time. Healthy snacks are very important. Let her know that snacks can be healthy and that a snack does not consist of only junk food. Receiving a healthy snack along with dinner is a special treat for any child. Make a big deal about her special treat on her dinner plate and that she is so lucky to have that special treat. Tell your child that if she takes a bite of her dinner then she can take a bite of her special snack on her plate, and rotate between the two.

During the years that your child is a picky eater, it is better to serve foods that he or she likes to eat to avoid confrontation. You should never force your child to eat; she will not starve herself, when she is hungry she will eat. If dinnertime is unpleasant, she will not look forward to it and therefore not want to eat. Another good solution to dinnertime woas is making eating a game. I know, I know, mother always told you not to play with your food, however I bet if you tell your 2 year old she had better not eat that bite of food, she will eat it real quick.

Give your child a job to do. When children are involved in the process of dinner, they get excited about eating what they helped to make. Even a 2 year old can take part in preparing for dinner, with your assistance. You can gather all the table accessories and have her help you set the table up for dinner. Let her know this is her job, and make her feel important and needed, then let her know how proud you are that she did her job, let her know she will be rewarded for her good behavior after she eats her dinner.

It also helps to be sure you are sitting with your child at the table, make this family time. No one wants to sit by themselves and eat. Share the memory of "The Family Table" with your child. This is a time where you sit and talk about your day, what your child has learned or did that day. If she does not want to eat on her own, you can try getting her fork or spoon ready by putting the food on it to make it easier for her to just pick up and put in her mouth. Express to her how good the food is, or how pretty her very own special plate is and make a huge deal after every bite about how happy you are that she is eating her dinner like a good/big girl.

One last way to help a picky eater is to get a good book to read about eating. Try a colorful book with lots of pictures and try reading this book to your child once a day. If all else fails, consult your child's pediatrician for more ideas and to find out if there is a concern. Good luck and happy meal planning!

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