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St. Christopher's Hospital for Children

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8 Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Dr. Deborah Sandrock, pediatrician at St. Christopher’s, offers tips on how to manage your picky eaters.

Philadelphia, PA, February 26, 2015 --( As a parent, you’ve probably been here:

You cook a well-balanced meal for your children and make every effort to make those dreaded vegetables tasty. You serve the meal and you feel like the next hour is spent staring down your child as you convince them eat the healthy meal you just created.

Now what -- face this battle on a regular basis or learn to address your little picky eater? Deborah Sandrock, MD, physician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, has fielded her share of questions about picky eaters in more than 25 years as a pediatrician.

“Most parents are aware of how important a well-balanced and healthy meal is for their children,” says Dr. Sandrock. “But I always warn parents that they must be careful when approaching meals with picky eaters. You want them to grow to enjoy the meals you cook, remain firm in wanting them to eat healthy meals, but at the same time you don’t want to have to beg your children – this will only lead to conflict.”

Dr. Sandrock offers a few tips when it comes to picky eaters:

Introducing healthy foods and a variety at an early age will help expand the palate When introducing new foods, offer them with other foods – something that they are already familiar

Don’t get discouraged when your child doesn’t like something you’re introducing right away! It can take 10-15 trials of a new food before a child will accept it.

Respect your child’s appetite. Sometimes they really are just not as hungry as you think they may be. Kids will eat when they’re hungry, but they can be tempted to eat when they are not hungry. Forcing them to eat when their appetite is not all there could create bad habits.

One tablespoon of fruits, vegetables, and meat per year of age up to age five is usually recommended. A child’s plate should be offered to encourage proper portion

Limit juice to 4-6 ounces per day. This will help prevent spoiling of appetite before or during a meal. Don’t become a “short-order cook.” Don’t get stuck making “special meals” because it is what your child is requesting. Offer small portions of what is served, even when eating out.

Make meal times fun and exciting so children look forward to trying new foods

“It’s not uncommon for kids to be turned off by new foods or show their dissatisfaction with a food they don’t like,” says Dr. Sandrock. “But as parents, it’s your job to introduce them to new foods that will help them grow up strong and healthy. It’s important to mold healthy children who understand that they can’t just demand junk food for dinner and expect to receive it. The younger you start with introducing kids to healthy foods, the easier it becomes and the broader a child’s palate.”
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St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Kelsey Jacobsen

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