We jumped on the Chat GPT bandwagon and asked it a question today: how do you prevent picky eating in kids? To our surprise, their answer very much matched our research. So we're sharing here what we've independently found, and what a robot validated for us.
Offer a variety of foods: provide your child with a wide range of healthy and nutritious foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and dairy products. This will help your child develop a taste for different flavors. Do not shy away from spices: during the coveted "flavor window" between 4 and 18 months, babies are more inclined to accept these new flavors and savor them into adulthood. Think turmeric, cumin, saffron, curry, garlic and thyme. But no need for extra salt!
Be a role model at the table: children often mimic their parents' eating habits. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to do the same. In our family, we teach our kids to "eat the rainbow" and talk through all of the colors on our plates.
Involve your child in meal planning and preparation: this will help your kid feel more invested in the food and maybe - just maybe - be more willing to try it. My son LOVES making meatballs, soup and banana bread, and my daughter ADORES making cake, Challah and marinara sauce!
Make mealtime enjoyable: it should be fun, lively and full of conversation. Avoid pressuring your child to eat or making negative comments about their food choices. Again, embody good eating habits in front of them.
Be patient: it may take several attempts (ahem, or more!) before your child will try - let alone enjoy - new foods. Be patient and continue to offer a variety of choices.
Avoid using food as a reward (or a punishment!): using food as a reward may encourage picky eating and unhealthy habits. It also encourages kids to eat dessert - or whatever food is awarded - as a treat when they're not even hungry.
Offer small portions: this helps kids feel less overwhelmed and more willing to try new foods.
Limit snacks between meals to avoid your child feeling too full to eat a properly balanced breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Remember, preventing picky eating in children is a gradual process, and it may take time for your child to develop a taste for different foods. We've heard a child needs to try something up to 17 times before they decide how they feel about it. Be patient and persistent, and you will eventually (alright, PROBABLY) see positive results. Do NOT be too hard on yourself!