10 Tips to Help Picky Eaters Accept New Foods: Part 2
Jun 24, 2020
In last week’s blog (Part 1), I shared the sensory steps that kids often go through when learning to accept a new food. Your child may not be ready to chew and swallow a new food; however, he/she may be comfortable looking, squishing, smelling, or kissing the food. In time, he/she will work toward food acceptance, at his/her own pace.
Parents and kids both have jobs at mealtimes:
Ellyn Satter is a renowned Registered Dietician who termed the “Division of Responsibility” or Golden Rule in feeding: Adults decide what food is served, when it is served, and where. The child decides how much to eat, and whether to eat at all. I highly recommend her website (link in references below) and resources. I often share Ellyn’s golden rule as a handout with the families I work with and I ask them to post-in on their fridge as a daily reminder:
10 Tips to Help Parents with their Feeding Job:
1. Family Meals
- Family meals offer social and communication time
- Learning opportunities about family foods and positive role-modeling
2. Regular Meal-Snack-Meal-Snack-Meal Schedule
- Allow 3-4 hours between meals for appetite development
- Avoid grazing throughout the day will help with growth
- Monitor the length of meals (20-30 minutes for meals and 10-15 minutes for snacks)
3. Liquid Intake
- Limit juice intake to 4-6 ounces per day to allow appetite for food
- For children over age 1, limit milk to 2-cups (approximately 16 ounces) per day.
- Offer milk after meals vs. before meals.
4. Food exploration/play and repeated exposure to new foods
- Play with food! Have fun with food!
- Present new foods for learning during mealtimes once the food has become more familiar. New foods could be presented on a separate or divided plate at mealtimes until your child is comfortable with the foods on his/her plate
- Follow the 75-25 rule (75% of the plate familiar foods: 25% of the plate new foods)
5. Food chaining = making very small (teeny tiny) changes to existing food preferences
- Start small (the changes should not be noticed by your child)
- Hold any changes for 1-2 weeks then gradually increase
- Make one change at a time
6. Respect your child’s feeding and hunger cues
- It's normal for your child’s caloric intake to vary from meal to meal.
- It’s important to let children learn to follow their own hunger/satiety cues.
- As adults, we don’t eat the same amount every day and every meal. This applies to children too.
7. Feeling Safe and Building Trust
- Ongoing mealtime power struggles can actually contribute to picky eating and food refusal. Pressuring kids to eat is often unintentional, but it can lead to reducing a child’s likelihood to eat
- Successful mealtimes are built on trust
- Avoid tricking, pushing, or forcing at mealtimes
- Allow your child to get the food out of her mouth or off of her plate (e.g., using an “all-done bowl”)
8. Involvement in mealtime process
- Encourage your child to help set the table or serve foods to others
- Cook together or ask you child to help with food preparation (e.g., stirring, sprinkling, chopping, serving food to others)
- Allow your child to have some control by offering a choice between 2 acceptable foods
- Offer foods in courses to maintain interest in the meal vs all foods at once
- Look for fun feeding utensils/plates
- Fun food presentation on the plate (e.g., clown face, train, etc.)
10. Use of appropriate distractions
- Try to incorporate food or mealtime-related distractions (e.g., their own bowl and spoon)
- YOU can be a fun distraction! Talk about something at mealtimes other than the food and eating (e.g., going to the park, Peppa Pig, a friend from school).
If you’re feeling too stressed, try to walk away and take a break. Research shows that pressuring, forcing, and bribing kids to eat does not work. Seek help from a professional if you are facing feeding challenges. Things can significantly improve with intervention.
The Ellyn Satter Institute: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/