Having a child who is a picky eater can often lead to unhappy, frustrating mealtimes for the whole family. For the kiddo, it is often much more than a simple refusal of a food that may look or taste “icky” to them. Expanding their diet and adding new foods is often quite challenging for families as a result. Rather than viewing these challenges as roadblocks, start on the path to viewing these opportunities as fun detours instead!
Making a mealtime a fun, positive, engaging experience with the family is a great way to get your child to buy into the experience. See below for a few ideas on how to create fun detours. While your child may not be inclined to immediately progress to eating the food, these positive experiences will allow for your child to learn more about the properties of the food, gain more experience with various foods, and increase his/her tolerance of different foods.
Be a detective! Use your five senses to determine how the food looks, feels, sounds, smells, and tastes. Celebrate the small steps with engaging with the food and be creative! How can you find out how a carrot sounds without biting it?
Become a scientist! Food is a great tool for science experiments. You can dissect a cereal bar, freeze foods in ice cubes, or mix liquids together to create something new, like a smoothie! The options are truly endless!
Have your child help in the kitchen! By getting your kiddo to watch or even assist in preparing a dish, he/she will be able to have the opportunity to visualize the ingredients being included. Washing and cutting
Make food crafts! Apple slices can quickly become rays of sunshine or whiskers for a cat. Pretzels can become paintbrushes and yogurt can become paint. Sliced pears can become building blocks. Use your imagination!
Remember to step back, celebrate the small victories, and have fun!
Rachelle Eugster, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist