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If you have a picky eater at home, you know the struggle. It seems like every mealtime is a battle, and getting your child to try new foods is almost impossible. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we will share some of the best books for picky eaters. These books are filled with educational resources, great reframes for parents and fun recipes that will get your child excited about food!
Picky eating is defined as a child’s “refusal to eat certain foods or an avoidance of new foods.” It is considered a normal part of childhood development and usually lasts from ages 2-6. Picky eating is characterized by an unwillingness to eat familiar foods or to try new foods, as well as strong food preferences (Appetite). However, some children may continue to be picky eaters into their teenage years or adulthood.
There are many possible causes of picky eating, though the exact cause is unclear. Some children may be born with a sensitive palate, while others may develop picky eating habits after a negative experience with a particular food, and much feeds in to the normal toddler preference for control. Additionally, some children may be more prone to picky eating if their parents or caregivers are also picky eaters (Nemours).
If you’re the parent of a picky eater, the best thing you can do is be supportive and encouraging in their journey. Being mindful of a child’s wishes and preferences can help you in guiding them through strategic choices. Try not to force your child to eat foods they don’t want to eat, as this may cause them to develop an aversion to that food. Instead, offer a variety of healthy options and let them choose what they want to eat. When providing a non-preferred food be sure to keep portions small, typically 1 teaspoon for children under 6 and 1 tablespoon for older children.
Another important way to be supportive of your picky eater is in watching their emotional response to non-preferred foods and in how you speak about food around your picky eater. Adopt a growth mindset regarding what foods your child accepts, speaking in terms of them still learning what foods or textures they enjoy. When you notice your picky eater getting nervous or upset regarding foods, I find connecting and physical touch a helpful skill. I typically recommend getting on their eye level, setting gentle hands on their shoulders and reminding them that they are safe and do not have to eat the food. Redirect their attention to the other foods, and remind them of the expectations. Guiding them through this will help you experience less stressful meals and they will learn how to better cope with those non-preferred foods.
When you have a picky eater and want to harness their curiosity with foods, this will also decrease their fear which means you can get to a broader palate faster and without pressure. These are fun books about food and eating that allow you to introduce ingredients without them even being on the plate. Plus, reading with your child has so many connection, education and development benefits.
Did you know that children who cook regularly tend to have a healthier overall diet long term? It’s true. Researchers have found that when children take more active roles around food with their parents they consume more fiber and lean protein and less sodium and added sugars – all features of a healthy balanced diet. Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks to use with kiddos.
Supporting your picky eater as a parent involves respectful language, low pressure experiences, and active kitchen time. Many parents want a bigger picture of how and why to follow certain procedures for their picky eaters, and rightfully so. Below, I’m sharing some of my favorite resources for parents navigating picky eating.
If you’re struggling to help your picky eater and want more personalized support than what’s outlined above, grab my ebook bundle which covers picky eating and streamlining family meals, and also includes a private Facebook community. You can also schedule a complementary call with Courtney to learn about more individualized support options, here.