First of all, if your child is going through the food selectivity phase , don’t feel alone. All children go through this , some become more selective, others less so.
This is because selectivity is common in early childhood and finding ways to face this phase helps your child to continue eating healthily, despite facing some difficulties.
That’s why we’ve brought information in this article so you can understand selectivity and have options for strategies to deal with these new challenges .
What is food selectivity?
Food selectivity is mainly characterized by the child’s preference for the same foods . She stops eating the variety of foods she ate as a baby and no longer accepts trying something new .
It is a stressful time for parents, who are concerned about their child’s health. But at the same time it is stressful for the child as well , who start to see meals as a time of tension and fights.
At what age does it happen?
This can vary from child to child, but selectivity starts to show up – usually – around two years of age .
By the age of two, the baby’s behavior changes in many ways . He discovers his own will and no longer accepts being commanded by the adult all the time.
In food it would be no different. The two-year-old wants to choose what, when and how to eat (usually wants to eat while playing). And being flexible is a premise of all the strategies we’ll teach you below.
So accept to get out of control and allow your child to cooperate , both at feeding time and at other times.
Also Read How to Encourage Your Child to Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Strategies for dealing with selectivity
Some strategies help to maintain a healthy diet, without creating great stress at mealtimes. Let’s get to know some of them?
1 – Offer options
Your child will come to deny many things you prepare with the greatest care in the kitchen. So get ready for it.
A simple idea that helps a child say yes to healthy food is to give options:
– “do you want me to prepare beans or lentils today?”;
– “do you want apple, papaya or banana for lunch?”;
– “do you prefer pasta with meat or chicken sauce?”;
– “which fruit do you want mom to buy at the market?”.
Of course this won’t work 100% of the time. And that’s why we have other strategies for you to explore.
2 – Don’t fail to offer
The most common behavior of parents is to stop buying and offer those foods that the child starts to deny. But don’t do this .
Keep preparing and offering healthy foods, even if the child denies it several times. Eventually she’ll try it again .
3 – Respect the child during the meal
One problem triggered by food selectivity is that meals become torture for the child .
In the best of intentions parents force, fight, insist, and even frighten the child in the hope of seeing him eat again. But that only makes mealtime boring and difficult for your child.
So, the rule is to be patient and respect the child’s moment .
4 – Change the way of preparation and presentation
This strategy works very well . Changing the way food is prepared can help with acceptance and make the child taste the food again.
If your child no longer accepts mashed potatoes, prepare baked potatoes. If you don’t accept cooked carrots, cook them. Use different seasonings and vary between roasting, sauteing, steaming or steaming.
The form of presentation on the plate can also help. Cut the fruit with small shapes of stars or hearts , into slices or squares . And foods that the child is used to seeing cut, offer in whole or larger pieces.
5 – Eat together and set an example
Eating meals together with the child has always been helpful. Babies at the beginning of the introduction of food tend to eat more and a greater variety of foods when they sit with their parents at the table and watch them eat.
Kids act a lot out of imitation , so enjoy this. Sit at the table together and eat healthy foods with your child. Lead by example .
6 – Let the child participate in the preparation
Include your child in meal preparation. Call him into the kitchen and let him see, handle food and help with simple tasks .
With the child involved in the activity of preparing food, there is a greater chance that he will be interested in and try food .
What to avoid?
Just as some strategies help, there is a list of what not to do . Pay close attention, as you may be worsening your child’s selectivity phase .
Avoid pressing the child during the meal, saying things like “eat everything to get strong” , “eat the food that mommy prepared so lovingly” , “eat so mommy is happy”, “eat it if I’m not going to be sad” , etc.
After all, we want the child to eat out of hunger and because he likes the food and not to fulfill our wish.
punishments or blackmail
Worse than the pressure described above is using punishment or blackmail to make the child eat.
Prohibiting playing while not eating everything, saying that if you don’t eat you won’t go for a walk or any other type of punishment makes the meal become a boring obligation .
This is so common that many people find it normal and acceptable. But think about it, put yourself in the child’s shoes and try to make eating a light subject in your home.
Another very common manipulation, but which further aggravates selectivity: promise candy, chocolate or any other poor food if the child eats all the food.
This starts a cycle that never ends well . The child who already has a preference for this type of food still sees it as a reward, so it becomes even more valuable.
Offering candy as a reward increases a child’s desire for the candy itself, not the food.
“Better than nothing”
Common and widely used phrase, isn’t it? The child does not eat lunch, but then asks for a chocolate cake. Soon the mother thinks “Oh, better than nothing”.
But yes, it was better not to offer anything . First, because the child learns that he or she gets the cake if they don’t eat the food, and will start to repeat this over and over again. Second, because maybe she didn’t eat at meal because she wasn’t hungry and when hunger came you could offer the same little dish, not a cake.
So forget about that “better than nothing” mantra and break this cycle . Always give healthy options if your child doesn’t want the food on the plate you offered.
#Nutri Baby Selectivity Course Tip
All this (and much more) I learned in Nutri’s Baby Food Selectivity Course . Nutritionist Franciele Loss, mother of 4-year-old Lucas and 1-year-old Mariana, is a Specialist in Maternal and Child Nutrition and masters this subject with propriety.
The course is in video-class format, divided into 15 classes with support material . Buyers can access the material whenever and wherever they want, since it’s all online .
Anyway, I highly recommend it because it helps a lot with my almost 3 year old daughter who is in this critical phase. All the people I recommended this course to also loved it and are now Fran’s fans, like me.
The value is very affordable and can be paid in up to 12 installments . If you are interested, click on the button below:
And then just keep appointments with the pediatrician , always doing routine exams to make sure that selectivity is not harming your child’s health.
But I’m sure you’ll get out of that letter phase and still help your child maintain healthy habits for a lifetime . That’s why our effort is always worth it. Is not it?
Dr. Tabriella Perivolaris, Sara's mother and fan of fashion, beauty, motherhood, among others, about the female universe. Since 2018 she has been working as a copywriter, always bringing to her articles a little of her experience and experience as a mother and woman.