Stop picky eating with fun and education

- If you find yourself dreading mealtime, pediatrician, and mom, Dr. Lori Bowers says you're not alone.

"Picky eaters are the bane of many parents existence,” she explains.

She says the battle lines are usually drawn around 15-18 months of age. "I think the frustrating thing is, you make a meal, you invest time in that, and then they won't eat it. It's important not to become a short order chef where you're trying to appease them," says Dr. Bowers. 

Rather than forcing kids to expand their palates, registered dietitian Sarah Krieger advises parents to educate children instead. Farmers markets are a great place to start. "There's no pressure and it's fun and you're out walking and you’re shopping and that really has helped a lot of kids and families get a lot more vegetables in their diet," explains Krieger.

Involving kids in food prep increases the chance they will sample something different. A process that requires full supervision. "Choking is number one risk factor for toddlers when it comes to trying new foods, so we want to choose things that are quite small and super soft," says Krieger.

Kid friendly plates can also make culinary creations more tempting to taste. Even so, sometimes the odds are just stacked against you. However, Dr. Bowers says don't stress.  "There will be days, and my son went through it too, where you swear not a morsel of food has touched their lips, but the amazing thing is they continue to maintain their growth through this phase regardless"

Dr. Bowers may recommend vitamins or counsel parents to hide veggies in smoothies and pasta dishes, all while sticking to a strict meal-time schedule. "Once you're done with mealtime, mealtime goes away and I don't recommend adding supplemental food to combat what they didn't eat at dinner. All that does is encourage them not to eat at dinner and then it blunts their appetite if they're grazing or eating throughout the day."

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