One of the biggest nightmares of young parents after being woken up at ungodly hours is having a fussy eater at hand. These things can’t be predicted or helped but can cause a lot of trouble if you’re trying to introduce healthy foods to your baby. If it weren’t so karmically hilarious, getting a child to eat a bowl of protein-rich food like dal would be frustrating. Most of us have been there as kids, and here we are, trying to figure out a way to have our kids eat their meals even when their palate has not yet developed! Here are a few innovative pieces of advice from veteran parents who figured out smart ways to make a deal with their fussy eaters!
Things Take Time
It’s pretty typical for children to be picky eaters, mainly because they don’t have a refined palate yet. A study conducted in 2016 found that more than 25% of kids aged 1.5 – 5 years old are selective about their meals. Kids can be the moodiest about foods between 2-4 years of age! So take some comfort in this being a phase that will pass!
7 smart ideas to serve healthy meals to a fussy eater
Try Serving The Meal with Sweet Treats
While plating rice kheer with dinner may sound very peculiar if you stick to the “dessert only after dinner” convention, it can be a miracle worker while dealing with fussy kids. You can rewire their minds to think of certain foods differently, considering sweets always bring joy. Substitute with healthy alternatives like organic jaggery instead of sugar and tell kids that certain foods (healthier) have more value to them. Moreover, there are several ways to cook pulses and millets for kids; just add some organic jaggery and cardamom instead of salt to turn it into a surprise dessert meal. Sweetened curd works wonders as well; just make sure the weather and time of day allow for it!
Make Small(er) Portions
Portioning your child’s meals into smaller plates has two benefits. For one, it reduces the overwhelm caused by looking at a large serving of their least favorite foods. And secondly, it avoids wastage.
It will become simpler for you to get your child to eat a piece of papaya than devouring an entire bowl. Additionally, this gives them control over whether or not they want to eat more of it or not (which can have positives too)!
Keep Trying Things Over
Kids get bored very easily. While idli is healthier, kids might not be interested in it after some time. Try variations like Ragi idli or Jowar idli to spruce things up. Just the sight of the item being placed on your dining table, ready to eat, helps in conditioning them. The next time, try offering it differently to check if your kids prefer their fruits like apples and oranges with salt. You can also substitute boring foods with tasty but healthier options like serving small pieces of idli, dosa, or uttapam with veggies ground into the batter itself. A child can take about 15 or more exposures to certain foods to try it!
Create Food Adventures
Those who made the “no playing with food” rule need to be fined for depriving parents of the ultimate weapon. Since children love to play, making a serious event out of eating foods that even adults do not generally prefer will always backfire. Your child is more likely to complete their bowl of palak dal if you bring some fun into it! We don’t mean throwing around food, but creating games or stories out of mealtime! Get some veggie cutters in animal and planter shapes to make every meal a new adventure.
Involve the Babies
A child’s curiosity is one of the biggest helpers of parents, even during fussy eating. For instance, your child will be more invested in eating their veggies and meals if they help cook or select them. You can also show them how mini ragi pancakes are made for their baby-sized plates. If it looks and feels fun, it tastes yummier! Another factor is various textures. Try introducing healthy flakes or chivda which they can try.
Introduce New Foods
When getting the children to develop their taste, it’s vital to keep introducing various foods. However, many parents go overboard and end up overwhelming their kids. Instead, add a little bit to their favorite meal, like some boiled pumpkin with mashed dal, to get them to try out the combination.
Add Flavoring and Seasoning
Forget about being the ideal parent in the textbooks; nobody follows the manual to a T. Take a page out of veteran parents’ books and add a little chaat masala or aam chur powder for them to finish their share of vegetables. It works wonders on almost everything!
There are no hard and fast rules to parenting, especially getting them to eat well. If you have been blessed by a child that eats everything minus a fit, you’re golden! But if your child is a picky eater, trying these tips may just about get them to accept nutritious food without causing a rampage. Remember that you’re doing your best, and pat yourself on the back for trying!