4. Encourage Nutrient Dense Foods
For parents dealing with picky eaters, who are concerned their child is underweight, the best solution is to push nutrient dense foods as much as possible. Talk to your doctor about where your child fits in the percentile range, and if their low weight is of concern, encourage foods like full-cream milk fruit smoothies, peanut butter and other nut butters, yoghurt, proteins and carbs in order to get the food that they are eating the furthest in terms of energy gained.
5. Eliminate On-Demand Snacking
Many children get into the habit of all-day grazing, thanks to the availability of snacks on demand. While this might seem to make sense, it can actually make dinnertime more of a hassle, as kids know that there are snacks available that they enjoy more than dinner. So, stop this by having clearly organised snack times, and by not having any snacking of any kind after dinner. Kids should be getting enough at dinner to get them through to morning.
6. Involve Them In The Dinner Choices
Now, let us be clear. We are not expecting you to be a short-order cook here, but often, the reason kids kick back at dinner is because they’re asserting their ability to disagree and make choices. So, allow them to make choices within reason. Give them 2-3 options for dinners you could cook, or allow them to choose the plate, cup or bowl they use, and where they sit at the table. Big decisions for bigger kids, and small decisions for smaller ones.
7. Spread Healthy Food To All Meals
If you use dinner as a chance to fit in all of your child’s vegetable eating for the day, consider spreading this out onto other meals. That provides more opportunities for fussy eaters to take just a few bites out of something healthy at every meal, instead of at dinner. Many families use dinner as their opportunity to make up for a day of sugary breakfast foods and snacks, but good stuff needs to be spread out, not served all at once..
8. Give Them A Dinnertime Out
Sometimes kids say they aren’t hungry or they don’t want to eat simply because they aren’t sure how to get out of the dinner table setting. If you have a family rule for how long kids should sit at the dinner table, that’s great and it is a good idea. But, you should also give your kids an ‘out’ for when they’re done. Don’t let them fall back on “I’m not hungry” or “I don’t like it”, teach them to use “Can I be excused” with a solid reason.