Does this sound familiar: “when I go to the grocery store, I know there are five hundred kinds of vegetables and fruit, but I buy the same three all the time.” About one third of parents say their child is a picky eater and, in many cases, it’s nothing to worry about. The behavior is one of the few ways children can exert an influence on their parents and caregivers and that’s through eating or not eating. It’s a natural stage of developing some independence. But there are some things parents can do. Introducing a variety of foods in the toddler ages are crucial because it is such a short window of time. When children get older, it’s hard to accept new flavors. Parents also need to keep in mind that kids are more tuned in to their satiety cues than adults. Also, a child’s appetite will fluctuate at various stages. We are so used to seeing our portion sizes, that as adults we forget that kids have a smaller tummy and they don’t need as much food.
That means don’t bribe them into eating that extra bite by promising a cookie. When approaching mealtime, we recommend a division of responsibilities. Parents decide what, when, and where to eat and children decide whether to eat and how much. It can help to involve a child in preparing meals, but don’t cook them a separate meal. One family meal, no short order cooking. If you’re concerned with your child’s growth, be sure to consult your physician. Seek their advice to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need and to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to a change in growth. And unless your health care provider gives you specific instruction otherwise, rely on healthy food options instead of supplements!
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