Nothing frustrates a parent more than preparing a delicious, healthy meal for the family only to have a child take one look at it and prepare to leave the table. Living with a picky eater isn’t easy, but most children will go through a phase of picky eating at some point. While some outgrow it, others may remain in the phase for a long time, leaving parents at the end of their rope and out of ideas for how to get their child to eat better.
If you have a picky eater on your hands, you can take comfort in knowing you are not alone. This common frustration of parenting happens to just about every parent at some point.
Good Eaters Gone Bad
Most picky eaters don’t start out that way. Babies who ate anything put in front of them through the early stages of eating solids often take a turn for the picky side as they grow older. This is a normal part of development, and the effort that you put into providing a balanced children diet wasn’t in vain. A good eater will often go through a phase of picky eating and come out on the other side ready to eat again.
As children grow, their taste buds change and they change the way they feel about certain foods. Although many children still love sweets, the baby predisposition towards sweet will gradually fade as the palate starts to enjoy other flavors. While baby might make a face at a salty baby food, toddlers generally find salt quite enjoyable, as evidenced by their love of French fries.
Developing a sense of independence is also to blame for the changes in your previously good eater. Toddlers quickly come to realize that of the very few things they have any control of in their lives, eating is the one they can exert the most power over. They learn that there is really nothing you can do to make them eat what they don’t want to, and as part of learning to be independent, they will use this ability to find a sense of control over their environment. As independence develops and your child begins to feel more freedom over daily activities and actions, the picky eating may fade into the background.
Picky From the Start
Some children are simply picky eaters from day one. They never seem to develop an interest in many of the foods you offer and carry these habits over into toddler hood and beyond. A consistently picky eater may well stay that way into adulthood without a great deal of effort on the part of the parents.
Some people merely have stronger taste buds than others and find certain flavors overwhelming. There are certain foods that it is very possible your child will never like. This doesn’t mean healthy eating isn’t possible, but merely that you will have to be a lot more creative.
One of the best advantages of the toddler years is that you can start to serve foods in much more interesting forms. Rather than bland purees, your child can now try all kinds of cuisine that will take the foods they might not like and flavor them in such as way as to make them more acceptable.
Dealing with a picky eater isn’t easy, but it certainly isn’t uncommon. Whether your child was picky from the start or developed the pickiness over time, there is always hope. Don’t give up on serving healthy foods. One day, your persistence will pay off.