Whether your child is a newborn or a teenager, the studies show that at some point your child will definitely go through a picky eating phase in their childhood. Even if you hope and wish and pray for an adventurous eater, it’s a part of your child’s development that they’ll have to go through.
Kids have over 10,000 taste buds, which is nearly twice the number that adults have. This is why you may have noticed your own tastes changing over time – as you age and lose taste buds, you’ll find that your tastes have changed. For example, you may have started to like pickles or perhaps you stopped liking lemons.
However, kids have so many taste buds that new, strange, or just normal flavors actually can give them a sensory overload – no wonder they’re picky eaters! The flavors that you savor and love as a teenager onwards are amplified in a child’s mouth, so they actually do taste yucky.
There are many, many different schools of thought about getting your preschool child to eat, from being strict on mealtimes and no snacks to giving them whatever they want to eat whenever they want to eat it, but you know your child and yourself best. You need to come to the best system that adequately addresses what you feel is healthy for your child while not feeling like you have to fight to get them to eat at every meal.
Give Your Preschooler Choices
A large part of your preschooler’s development is wanting to be more independent and in control of decisions that affect them. This can be true of their clothes, their toys, and their food too. Letting your child have some choice in what they eat or when they eat can have a large effect on eating in general.
Letting them choose between two or three options gives them choice or at least an illusion of choice. Bringing them with you when you go grocery shopping to let them pick out what they want to eat can help as well. This doesn’t mean they can eat ice cream for breakfast – you still have to have boundaries – but it will help meal times go much smoother.
Is Your Preschooler Hungry?
It can be easy to forget that your child needs much smaller portions than an adult would. Your stomach is only about the size of your own fist, and your child’s stomach is the size of their fist. This ultimately means that their portion sizes need to be smaller. Overwhelming your child with large portions can be detrimental to getting them to eat. Getting smaller servings where they’re allowed to ask for more when they’ve finished – again, going back to giving them choices – helps them ease into newer foods.
Again, we’re talking about your child and your household and your system will be one that works best for you, but strict mealtimes can sometimes be detrimental to picky eaters. Because your child’s stomach is so small, they may not get hungry as often or as on schedule as you’d prefer. Forcing them to eat because of a schedule can make issues for them further down the road in their development.
Give Your Preschooler Something to Look At!
If you gave your child the choice between the store brand and the name brand, which do you think they’d pick? What about food in the shape of a cartoon character versus the way it normally comes? How about plain celery sticks versus bumps on a log? The smart guess would be that they would take the more exciting, colorful, and visually stimulating option each time.
Presenting food in an exciting visual way can help stimulate your child into being more excited about what they’re eating. The answer to “why doesn’t my child want to eat?” may simply be that they’re bored with the options that they have. Even giving it a snazzy name like “Kevin’s Pasta” or referring to food as what it looks like (such as calling broccoli “trees”) can help your child get excited about eating.
Contact Primary Beginnings today
If you’re looking for expert knowledge about child care, or your child’s development or nutrition, contact Primary Beginnings today. We have expert staff at two convenient Raleigh child care centers located on North Hills Drive and Spring Forest Road.