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Frustrated parents are sending their fussy kids to specially designed clinics at children's hospitals. What strategies do the experts there have to improve your kid's diet? Get the dish here. By Karen Cicero from Parents Magazine. By the time he turned 7, his pickiness escalated to the point where he started gagging when he tried a new food, even if it was a chocolate chip or a bite of mac 'n' cheese.
Birthday parties and family get-togethers were nerve-racking. With Tyler's eating habits only getting worse, Blatzheim researched options and ran across an outpatient program at Kennedy Krieger Institute, in Baltimore.
Some have autism, digestive troubles, or food allergies. But other kids are like Tyler -- ones without an underlying medical condition whose fussy eating habits are getting in the way of family life. See what helps kids who are reluctant to try new foods: Sure, you're not giving your kid a giant bowl of peas. At home, try a single pea, part of a noodle, or a crumble of cheese. Encourage your child by saying something like, "This is easy -- you could be done in a second.
Then, at subsequent meals, increase the portion of the new food and phase out the follow-up food. Williams's strategy worked for 4-year-old Gavin Lipp, of Hellertown, Pennsylvania, who would only eat pretzels, potato chips, applesauce, and a handful of other foods before he began appointments at Hershey. You've probably heard it before: A child has to try something ten to 15 times before he likes it.
His research shows that once you get the ball rolling on tasting new foods, it takes on average only six attempts for kids to accept them. Scale back on snacks and drinks. Before the appointment, most feeding clinics ask parents to record what their child has eaten and drunk for at least the last three days.
Once families cut back to three meals and one to three snacks at relatively consistent times, Entgelmeier says they find that their kids are more receptive to trying something new because they're truly hungry.
Invite an adventurous friend. While feeding-clinic sessions generally take place one-on-one, Dr. Williams says that at home you can harness the power of peers. Of course, one taste probably won't make him a broccoli fan, but it will help him get over the hump of trying it, which is half the battle.
If your child is okay with trying foods but never seems to like any of them even after multiple attempts, he may experience flavors or textures more acutely. These suggestions work especially well for children with sensory problems although all picky eaters may benefit from trying them. Some food avoiders relish the attention that it brings them.
When Dad came home with every flavor of bagel the bakery sold, their son wasn't interested in eating anything despite lots of coaxing. Don't necessarily make a huge deal when your child wants to try something -- the more casual you are about it offer him a piece, but don't watch him eat it for instance , the more likely it is that he'll actually follow through, says Dr.
At some feeding clinics, the staff takes pictures or video of accomplishments for parents to show their child at home as a reminder that he or she liked a new food. Go slow and steady. You may think it's ridiculous to puree foods for your 5-year-old. But that's exactly what they sometimes do at feeding clinics. But as the weeks go by, the color starts to change. When it begins to look orange, they generally don't freak out because the progress has been so gradual.
Not all picky eaters want bland food. If your child prefers sweetness, glaze carrots with a little honey or maple syrup, or if he likes spice, season crab cakes or chicken with chili powder.
Some feeding clinics follow a strategy called food chaining, fading, or graduated exposure, using a food that the child prefers to get her to try something similar. For instance, if your kid is obsessed with chicken nuggets, it's likely going to be harder to introduce shrimp than another kind of chicken.
A few months from now, you'll be rewarded with a healthier eater. Perhaps the typical picky eater isn't as picky as you thought.
Write down all the foods your child eats; closely related ones, like string cheese and American cheese, count separately. Disordered or extreme picky eaters accept only 20 or fewer foods and are often sensitive to texture, temperature, or color, explains Nicole Lidyard, R. If your child really only eats 20 or fewer foods, ask her doctor to refer you to a local dietitian or feeding program. Healthy Drinks for Kids. When Your Child Is Skinny. What to Feed Kids Every Day.