Does your child seem to turn their nose up at any food you offer? Or do they only want to eat bananas all day long? You may have a picky eater on your hands. But before you pull your hair out with worry, there are some simple tips to get your child to eat a little more foods. Don't force your child to eat when they are not hungry. Try and maintain a schedule for mealtimes and snacks. Limit snacks and juice intake and cut them off at least one hour before mealtime. Stay calm and don't make mealtime a battle. This may only reinforce the negative behaviors in your child. Don't expect too much from your child. They may only eat a few bites. After the age of two, children experience slower growth rates and have a reduced appetite. Not to mention that at this age they are usually too busy to eat much. Limit the amount of liquid calories your child consumes throughout the day. It is important that they consume milk and fruit juices but don't allow them to substitute these for meals. Offer several foods to your child in small portions and let them decide what they want to eat. Don't insist that they clean their plate. Not only is this sometimes unrealistic but it will only reinforce the struggle and can lead to overeating. Toddlers like spreading, or more accurately, smearing. Show them how to use a table knife to spread cheese; peanut butter, and fruit concentrate onto crackers, toast, or rice cakes. Make foods fun. Offer veggies with dip and chicken with ketchup or cut foods into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Sneak in some veggies and fruits. You can add veggies to sauces and casseroles and put some fruit in cereal or pancakes. Make sure there are no distractions during mealtimes such as television and toys to play with. Don't offer dessert or cookies as a reward. This may only make your child scream for cookies all through dinner! Invite a friend over that is close to your child's age or have a meal at their house. You might be very surprised to see your child trying new foods if the friend is eating them. Sometimes peer pressure can work in your favor. Make eating fun by making a game of it. You can play train into the tunnel with bites of food. Of course, make sure children don't always depend on you to make the train go into the tunnel and learns to feed themselves. Let them help prepare meals. Children are more likely to eat their own creations, so, when appropriate, let your child help prepare the food. Don't panic! As long as your child is energetic and growing, then they are usually getting all the nutrition that they need. If you have concerns, then consult with your child's pediatrician. Most children will become less picky eaters as they mature.
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