First of all, don't call your child a "picky eater," or he may become one forever. Children's eating habits can develop and change for a lot of reasons. Their tastes are naturally evolving.
Here are some suggestions for improving your child's eating habits.
- Have a wide variety of healthy foods available, recognizing that children do have different tastes.
- Set a good example by following healthy eating habits yourself, including having a good breakfast. If your child won't eat breakfast, make sure she has nutritious, high-energy snacks for getting to and from daycare or school.
- Provide a variety of foods rich in calcium, not just milk. Include foods such as calcium-fortified orange juice, cheese, yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk. Some children dislike milk.
- Try to involve your child in planning, shopping for and preparing meals. Even two- and three-year olds can do this in a simple way.
- Allow your child to help you make his favourite meals from time to time, even if it's not something you really enjoy.
- Try not to make mealtime a battleground by nagging, threatening or arguing about your child's eating.
- Try not to criticize your child's choices, or say that some foods are "bad." Instead, make sure that the foods offered are all healthy choices. Be creative.
- Be patient. Your child's tastes in food will continue to change.
If, however, you feel that your child's eating habits are making her unhealthy, consult your child's physician.