Keep your expectations low
Understanding, but not too understanding
It’s no fun to be the parent whose child wants the same thing for dinner six nights a week, but wanting the same food over and over again isn’t always picky eating – sometimes it’s a sign of wanting something familiar for comfort. This doesn’t mean Baby should necessarily get what he wants every time, especially if what he wants is chicken fingers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it can help to have another idea about why Baby may be acting the way he is.
Baby is also just like anyone else – he has food likes and dislikes, and even when he seems to be going through a picky phase, he isn’t doing it to be difficult. If you can manage to serve one thing that you know Baby likes to eat at each meal, he may be willing to try some of the other things at the table, and even if he doesn’t, there’s something there for him to eat.
Stick to the plan
Some families like to use the “one bite” rule, where children need to try to taste one bite of each type of food on their plates before they’re done, while others feel like this strategy can lead to power struggles, more than healthy eating.
Help Baby get involved
Having a predictable eating schedule means that it’s more likely that Baby will be hungry when dinnertime comes around. Making sure Baby sits down and stays still during meals instead of running around is just a safety issue, and scheduling snacks the same way you schedule meals, instead of letting Baby graze all day, can help you keep track of the balance of Baby’s diet.
This means not taking away food as a punishment, and not offering special treats as rewards or bribes. These types of punishments may seem to make sense, but they can start to alter the way Baby thinks about food, and adding associations can get in the way of listening to his body and building healthy eating patterns.
The bottom line
Baby may be a little bit of an unpredictable eater for a few months or even years, and he may be more interested in what’s on your plate than what’s on his own. That doesn’t mean, however, that the good work you’re doing in offering him a variety of healthy, interesting foods isn’t going to pay off! If you have any concerns about Baby’s eating patterns, don’t hesitate to check in with his pediatrician or other healthcare provider.
- “Serving Sizes for Toddlers.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, March 7 2016. Web.