What to do when baby won’t eat the same foods anymore. Don’t panic! Here’s how to handle things when baby refuses to eat foods they once loved. Tips for picky eating and how to help your picky eater.
“My baby used to eat broccoli, but now he won’t touch it! What did I do wrong? HELP!”
Our messages are constantly flooded with questions like this on picky eating, so we know that this is a topic that hits home for many of you. And we’ve been there too!
How is it possible that the same food our toddlers LOVED yesterday they refuse to eat today?
While picky eating phases are normal for most kiddos, it doesn’t make it less frustrating for those trying to make sure they get all the nutrients they need.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when approaching picky eating phases with your child.
How to help your picky eater
While it’s easy to fall into well-meaning habits like bartering, threatening, and begging to get your child to eat, these can actually have an opposite and unwanted effect.
If you’ve tried this (and probably most of us have!), there’s no shame in the game. Let’s try something new to help your picky eater.
Instead, evidence-based approaches encourage new food acceptance without pressure. This makes mealtime more bearable for both you and your babe.
Give these a try!
1. Continue to offer diverse options with each meal.
You can continue to serve the new “favorite” food, but keep it alongside several additional foods as well. You can even throw a new food in there!
Serving small portions helps take the pressure off and increases the likelihood that they’ll try said new foods.
You can also try letting them choose. Use close-ended questions for better outcomes, as this allows them to feel like they have more control.
For instance, ask “Do you want X or Y?” over “What do you want?” as we all know the latter question rarely ends productively for either party.
2. Serve new foods with tried-and-true favorites.
You can also try including your child in the prep process, giving them a chance to experience the new food without pressure.
This could look like having them help with things like stirring, rolling, pouring, or even dividing onto plates for mealtime.
Plus, we always say that including kids in the meal prep process at an early age helps them become comfortable in the kitchen and learn skills that will continue to serve them well for life.
3. Teach your child about healthy foods through books or play.
This counts towards exposure too!
Try engaging your child with descriptive language that they can take back to the table.
Talking about a new food in terms of its color, shape, texture, or appearance is much more engaging than calling it “yummy”.
For example, say: “This apple is crunchy and tart!” rather than describing how good it tastes, or how healthy it is for them to eat.
4. Lead by example.
Continue to lead by example and show your child what food acceptance looks like in practice.
After all, your actions provide a blueprint for what positive food behaviors look like.
Just like your kids pick up on your preferences, words, and phrases (albeit maybe not always the best ones!), they will also start to develop perceptions of what it looks like to make healthy choices and eat a variety of foods.
5. Understand that picky eating is normal.
Picky eating. Frustrating, yes, forever, no!
Feeding picky eaters can be challenging, but studies show that a no or low-pressure method with continued exposure is the best way to go. That means letting them try new foods at their own pace and in their own time.
In fact, parental pressure to eat at a young age may be associated with problematic eating patterns as kids get older.
It also means that this takes time. Remember that nutrition is a long game. It’s your job to provide the food and it’s your child’s job to eat!
Everything else will work itself out.
If you’ve experienced times when baby refuses to eat things she previously loved, you’re not alone. And if you’re wondering what to do when baby won’t eat the same foods anymore, we hope these tips for picky eating help!
Chime In: How have you handled picky eating phases with your kids? Other helpful tips or anecdotes? Share below!
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