Health

Coping with a picky eater

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Updated 11:51 AM ET, Mon July 30, 2018
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Do you have a picky eater in your house? As babies grow, they can develop aversions to foods they once liked. Pediatricians, nutritionists and feeding specialists give their top tips for handling picky eaters. Shutterstock/gresei
You can begin "picky-proofing" when baby begins eating solid foods. "Babies learn taste preferences from a very early age, so offer a variety of tastes, textures, and even temperatures of food," said pediatric feeding specialist Melanie Potock, author of "Adventures in Veggieland." Shutterstock/Marko Poplasen
Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of "What to Feed Your Baby" has a list of "11 foundation foods" she believes will help children learn to love healthy food. "Let your infant lean in and open his mouth when he wants to eat," said Altmann. "Don't force feed or play airplane games -- that doesn't help." Shutterstock/ElRoi
Encourage your child to make friends with food at a young age by involving them with cooking, said Potock. She also suggests playing with food, such as using beans in a tic-tac-toe game. Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker
Potock also suggests talking about how food is grown, such as with green beans and "Jack and the Beanstalk." Better yet, she said, grow your own veggies if possible, and have your child harvest and cook them. Take your child regularly to the farmers' market to see and touch new temptations. FatCamera/E+/Getty Images
Michigan pediatrician and researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng suggests pairing your picky child with one that is eating a variety of foods. "Children are more likely to be willing to taste a new food if they see another human being tasting that new food," she said. "And it's even more powerful if it's a peer." Jill Lehmann Photography/Moment RF/Getty Images
Parents should model healthy eating behavior, said Ellyn Satter, author of "Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense."
"Kids do better with eating when they get their parents' undivided, positive attention," said Satter, adding that rule applies even when serving take-out or going to a restaurant. "However you put together a meal, it's still important to sit down together and pay attention to each other when you eat it."
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At age 2 and 3, it's developmentally appropriate for toddlers to have aversions to foods they used to like, said Lumeng. Worried parents often begin coaxing, harassing or even bribing with dessert. Don't do it, said Lumeng. She just completed a study showing that pressure tactics don't work. Shutterstock/Ivolodina
Instead of pressuring your child, continue to cook meals that you enjoy and include one or two items the child likes. "But don't cater to them and limit the menu to only things the child readily accepts," warns Satter. "And don't force them to eat. Let your child choose what and how much to eat of what you put on the table." Shutterstock/ChameleonsEye
Following these tips will help parents survive the picky eating era and set their child up for later success, experts said.
"As the child moves through the natural stage of picky eating and emerges out the other side," said Potock, "they've been exposed and are friends with a lot of different foods and are ready to try them again."
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