Satisfying a finicky eater
As your baby gets older, she may get finicky. She may eagerly devour peas one day, then turn her nose up at them the next. That’s perfectly normal, but there are some things you can do to help better manage these days.
Set the stage
Sometimes the environment, not the food, contributes to a baby's fickleness. Create a calming environment at mealtimes. Whether you‘re eating together as a family or feeding your baby by herself, here are a few tips:
- Place everything you need—salad dressing, salt and pepper, and napkins for example—on the table before the meal starts so you can stay put.
- If the phone rings, let the machine get it.
- Ask visitors to avoid dropping by during mealtimes.
- Turn off the TV and radio when it’s time to eat. Create family rituals at the dinner table to establish a sense of tradition. Be sure to include her in the conversation.
- Limit the number of bowls, spoons, and cups on her tray. Giving her too much too soon, even if they're eating utensils, can overwhelm her and leave her uninterested in the task at hand.
- Try to sit down and eat meals as a family. Remember to be a good role model for your child!
Be food smart
The other factor that contributes to your baby's pickiness is the food itself. These tips may help you handle her changing tastes:
- Large portions may overwhelm her, so place baby-size portions on her tray.
- Give her time to chew, swallow, and even play a bit with a new food. Playing with food is part of learning about it, which helps her feed herself. Rushing her takes the fun out of eating and adds stress to feeding time.
- Expect a mess. It will make the feeding experience more pleasant for you and your baby. Protect flooring near your baby’s high chair with a plastic runner or newspapers. Give her unbreakable dishes and her own child-size spoon.
- Remain patient. If your baby rejects a food, prepare it in a different way next week and try offering it to her again. It may take up to 10 to 15 tries for your baby to accept it.
- Serve a variety of healthy foods; set a good example by eating a variety yourself.
- Never force your child to eat. While your role is to decide what foods to offer and when to offer them, let your baby be the one to decide whether to eat and how much to eat.
- Be realistic. Your baby may never love brussel sprouts. But with your help, she can learn the joy of trying new foods and the pleasures shared around the dinner table.