We’ve all done it — run a mental checklist of the two or three foods our children will eat, especially after meeting that one baby who “loves everything.” You naturally worry about a picky eater, but it’s a normal stage for infants and toddlers. Rest assured that even though your child may demand chicken fingers at every meal, there are things you can do to gradually expand her palate.
Before He Turns One
If you’ve introduced your baby to a variety of solid foods, you know that he prefers some over others. Research shows that it can take up to 15 tries before a child enjoys a new food, so don’t give up right away if he rejects an offering. As an alternative, you might try using foods he already likes to acquaint him with new ones. If he enjoys fruit, for instance, add it to yogurt. If he balks at veggies, mix a puree with applesauce, gradually changing the proportion of each until he is eating mostly vegetables. If he chooses finger foods over oatmeal, add crackers and allow him to fish them out.
The Toddler Years
Toddlers are notorious for their picky eating, but in most cases you needn’t worry. Your child’s diet will balance out over the week — even if she eats the same foods several meals in a row. Offer choices: “Would you like squash or broccoli?” A feeling of control will increase her motivation to try new items. So will allowing her to eat what you do. Use caution with spices — you can always set aside a seasoning-free portion for your toddler to taste.
More From Ages & Stages: