There's no such thing as perfect when it comes to parenting.
We often hear from parents who thought they'd nailed weaning, blessed with a child who eats everything they put on their plate.
That's until their child learns the word 'no!', and all of a sudden parents are faced with a child who refuses to eat anything that's not beige or laden with sugar. Almost overnight, it feels like all the hard work has gone to waste.
But all's not lost - there are a few things you can do to try and reverse picky eating habits (or stop them in their tracks!)
Don't stress about mess.
If mealtime is getting messy, let it happen! It's best to resist the temptation to wipe your child's face or hands as they're eating. This can cause children to associate negative feelings of being cleaned with eating, which can in turn put them off mealtimes.
Think about your reactions at the dinner table.
Fake it until you make it - don't react to their rejection of food. In doing so, your child may learn that they're able to use food to control things. If you don't exert pressure on them to eat, dinner times won't become a power struggle.
Also, putting pressure on your child to finish everything on their plate sends the wrong message. It's important for them to learn to self-regulate food intake.
Keep introducing new foods.
Food exploration doesn't have to stop after 6 months! Sometimes parents can get stuck in a rut with what to cook for their baby or toddler, but it's important not to get stuck in a rut of bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados.
Aim to introduce 2-3 new ingredients (and textures!) each week, and if they don't like it, try again. Don't give up if they turn their nose up the first time they're introduced!
At Mamamade, our organic porridges, mixes, purees and finger foods contain over 80 plant-based ingredients for your little one to try.
Beyond introducing new foods, remember to rotate the foods your baby actually does like! Do you want the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner? No? Neither does your baby!
If you're using distractions - stop.
We get it - sometimes it's easier to just hand over the iPad. We are also guilty of this too 🙋♀️. But when it comes to reversing picky eating, there are no quick fixes.
Using distractions such as tablets or TV as a crutch is only a short-term solution to the problem. Intead, keep the attention on the food - talk to your child about what they're eating, and use mealtimes as an opportunity to bond.
Eat dinner as a family.
Sit with your child as they are eating and they will be encouraged to eat with you. If you are chatting around the dinner table, this will also take the focus away from your child so they'll feel less pressure to finish what's on their plate. It also helps teach your child the social aspects of mealtimes, beyond just the food. Extra points if you're eating what they're eating, too!
Bring them into the kitchen.
Bring your little one into the kitchen when your preparing food. It helps them to gain confidence around food seeing how it's cooked, and also this can be a nice opportunity for some family bonding after a long, busy day! Toddlers and slightly older children can get involved with helping prep dinner, if you have a suitable task.
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