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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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."
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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."