Pediatrician’s Corner – Dr. Pradeep Gidwani
March – National Nutrition Month
Many parents worry when their child is a picky eater. Being a “picky eater” is a typical behavior for many preschoolers. It is simply another step in the process of growing up and becoming independent. As long as your preschooler is healthy, growing normally, and has plenty of energy, he or she is most likely getting needed nutrients. If you are concerned that your child’s picky eating has lasted for a long time or is very restrictive, speak with your child’s doctor.
In most cases, picky eating behaviors will go away with time. Many children will show one or more of the following behaviors during the preschool years.
- Your child may be unwilling to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Often, preschooler to prefer familiar foods and be afraid to try new things.
- For a period of time, your preschooler may only eat a certain type of food. Your child may choose 1 or 2 foods he or she likes and refuse to eat anything else.
- Sometimes your child may waste time at the table and seem interested in doing anything but eating.
- Your child may refuse a food because it is a certain color or texture – like foods that are green, have seeds, or are “mushy”.
Remember, picky eating is temporary. If you don’t make it a big deal, it will usually end before school age. You can do many positive things to deal with picky eating and help your child learn to try new foods.
- Let your kids help pick out fruits and veggies at the store.
- Kids like to try foods they help make. Mixing and measuring makes them want to taste what they are making.
- Try to make meals a stress-free time. Talk about fun and happy things. If arguments often happen at mealtimes, your preschooler may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.
- Offer choices. Rather than asking “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
- Offer a variety of foods and let your child choose how much of these foods to eat.
- Offer the same foods for the whole family.
- Make food fun!
Get creative in the kitchen:
- Name a food your child helps create – like “Peter’s Potatoes” or “Jenny’s Salad.”
- Cut a food into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters.
- Encourage your child to invent and help prepare new snacks or sandwiches.
- Have your child make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit.
- Let them dip their vegetables in low-fat dressings or dips like hummus or a bean spread.
- Put a wooden stick into a peeled banana. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, peel off the plastic and enjoy.
- Make Ants on a Log: Thinly spread peanut butter on narrow celery sticks. Top with a row of raisins or other diced dried fruit.
Contributed by Dr. Pradeep Gidwani