Picky eating can make it difficult to encourage positive mealtime structure. Some children are more sensitive to tastes and smells, while others can develop resistance to foods by observing other peoples’ eating habits. If you have a picky eater at home, here are some tips to promote a positive mealtime experience.Toddler eating

Be engaged

Mealtime is important to relax and talk with your family to create a positive atmosphere for everyone. Try to get rid of all other distractions like the television, electronics, or reading materials. This can minimize the temptation of multitasking and disengaging. You can also help your child become more engaged in mealtime activities by having them help you prepare the meal. This can get them excited to taste what they have prepared and can create a positive bonding experience.

Respect their choicesBoy & girl eating apple

Be patient with your children and try not to force a meal on them. Pressuring or bribing can reinforce negative feelings towards mealtime. Serving small portions can give your child a sense of empowerment to ask you for more and can prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. Also, offering them different choices of food can provide them with a sense of control to decide what they want to eat.

Presentation

Dad and daughter bakingSome children may become resistant to the texture or appearance of certain foods, so it is important to make food look appetizing when serving meals. Incorporate contrasting and bright colors like bell peppers on top of pizza or spinach in a pasta dish to create a visually appealing meal. You can also present your food in fun ways like using a cookie cutter to make shapes out of fruits and vegetables.

Role-modeling

What you eat has an impact on your child because they watch your behaviors, so try to have them watch you eat during meals, especially with new foods. Have conversations about the different flavors and textures of the food you are eating to help build their confidence to try them as well.