Little children do not have much they can control in life except for what goes into their body and, to a certain extent, what comes out. That is why parents often have a tough time with eating issues. Your goals should be to avoid a power struggle and to make mealtime fun.
Model Healthy Eating
Children are supposed to eat three-to-five servings of fruit and vegetables a day if they are to follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid. This can be a monumental task if all your child eats are chicken nuggets and french fries. Start by modeling good eating behavior. If you aren’t eating vegetables, you can’t expect your child to eat them, according to the Keep Kids Healthy website.
Be persistent when you offer vegetables. Children are often resistant to try anything new. By the 10th or 15th attempt you make at offering a spoonful of peas, your child might finally try them. Although it is not impossible to try to get a young child to eat vegetables, you will have more success with a child who is 2-to-4 years old versus one who is 4-to-8 years old, according to the Keep Kids Healthy website.
Add Vegetables to Other Foods
If your child simply will not try plain vegetables, even after repeated tries, you can put them into foods that she does like. You can make zucchini muffins or put corn kernels in the corn bread, for example. You can also dice up carrots and add them to a marinara sauce or mix some vegetables in with the other pizza toppings. Some children will eat vegetables with dip or with cheese sauce. Other children will eat stir-fry vegetables with a good sauce. Another idea that works with some children is to let them grow their own vegetables. They may be more willing to eat something that they produced.
Fruit is Also Good
It is often easier to get picky eaters to eat fruits instead of vegetables. If your child is eating fruit and drinking fruit juice, he is getting nutrition, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Offer a variety of fruit and maybe a multivitamin if your child absolutely refuses to eat vegetables.
Keep in mind that a vegetable serving size for a toddler is different from what you would eat. A good rule of thumb to figure serving size is 1 tbsp. of vegetables for each year old your child is.
It’s not a good idea to bribe your child. When you bribe with dessert if your child eats her vegetables, she will probably never like vegetables and will only get through them to get to the dessert. Your child may eat the vegetables that one night, but you will not have taught her to enjoy them, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
The last thing you want to do with a child is to get into a power struggle over food. It is even worse to get in one and lose. Once you enter a power struggle, no victory is possible. If you win, your child may try harder next time. If you lose, your child feels in control, according to the Family Education website.
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