From the very start, my kids have been excellent eaters. In fact, there’s not a whole lot that they won’t eat. Maybe I just got lucky. But I really think that these few things I did helped me to raise kids who aren’t picky eaters. I know for a lot of parents, getting their kids to eat more than just a select number of foods is tough, so I’m definitely grateful that my kids are open to such a variety.
Some kids are going to be picky eaters no matter what, but I wanted to do all I could to encourage healthy eating habits in my children from the very start. And I really believe that these things I did made a big difference!
So without further ado, here are a few things you can do early on to help prevent picky eating!
Breastfeed if you can
Although it won’t automatically make your child a great eater if they’re breastfed, breastfeeding can definitely help to prevent picky eating. Since a lot of the flavors of the food you eat passes through breast milk, your baby gets used to a lot of different tastes before they even have their first bite of solid food.
And according to a study at the University of Illinois, babies who are exclusively breastfed even for as little as three months are 59% less likely to become picky eaters. And that number goes up significantly the longer you breastfeed!
Feed them the food that you eat
Packaged baby food purees are so easy and we liked to have them on hand for the convenience factor. But we also gave our kiddos little bites of whatever we were eating. There’s really no reason to do purees at all if you don’t want to. Just make sure everything you offer is soft enough to be gummed and isn’t a choking hazard.
You don’t have to only stick to “kid” foods either. Don’t be afraid of giving your baby flavorful foods! Obviously, you want to be careful about extremely spicy foods, but giving your child food with a normal amount of spices and seasoning is great for getting them used to “real” food.
My kids pretty much ate everything when they were starting solids. Plus, if you only offer things like mac and cheese or peanut butter and jelly your child won’t get used to the kinds of foods that you normally eat.
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be interested in trying whatever’s on your plate, and it might lead to them finding a new favorite food! So far our 11-month-old has liked everything except for onions!
Let your baby feed themselves
This can get pretty messy, but it really helps your child get accustomed to different textures if they get to feel and pick up their food instead of you feeding them. It’s also really fun to see which foods they reach for and go back to the most! I just cut up bite-sized bits of our meal and lay some out on the table or tray of Noah’s highchair. He’s gotten really good at pincer grasp this way too!
Keep offering new foods
Some foods are an acquired taste. I know for me personally, some of my favorite foods now I didn’t like the first time I tasted them. It can be the same way for your little one. Sometimes it takes a few times for baby to get on board with a new food. There were a few foods that Addie or Noah didn’t seem to like at first, but after trying it several times they started liking. So don’t give up after the first or even the third or fourth try!
This tip rolls right into…
Try preparing foods a different way
Sometimes it might not be the food itself, but how it’s prepared that your child doesn’t care for. Try switching it up a bit. My kids are both crazy about green beans, but if the beans are roasted it’s a totally different story.
Try to add a flavor or food that your child likes to make other foods more appealing. For example, you could top veggies with cheese, or serve fruit with some yogurt. Just try offering a variety of foods every chance you get.
Another one of the ways that we encourage trying a new food, is to leave favorite and familiar foods off of their plate at first. They tend to be more willing to try something new that way. But if they already have something they know they like on their plate they’re most likely going to go straight for it and ignore the new food.
The best thing you can do to help prevent your children from becoming picky eaters is to lead by example and show them how yummy healthy eating can be! If they see you trying new foods and enjoying a variety of different flavors they’re more likely to try those foods too.
It’s also completely normal for kids to go through phases of refusing new foods, or even old favorites. My two-year-old, Addie, is actually going through her own picky phase lately. Just keep trying to offer a variety of healthy choices and make meals a relaxed and fun time and they’ll most likely grow out of it.
Are your children picky eaters or are they more adventurous with trying new foods? Do you have any tricks for getting your kids to try new foods?