Picky eating can be a sensitive topic for a lot of parents. Just know that we have ZERO judgement about how you want to approach eating with your children.
We understand this will be different for every family and every child.
I’m just sharing this info because Katie, the Montessori teacher that runs ourat-home program, gets asked this question A LOT.
Our general thought is that if 10 people are asking, there’s another 100 that are wondering but don’t have the time to email us :)
Here’s the 6 tips she gives all parents:
Feel free to skip this one if you have a picky toddler...
The best way to minimize picky eating in children is to start with the right approach in infancy.
Whenever you decide to introduce solids, offer a variety of foods.
It can be easy to get stuck in a pattern of offering children the same foods over and over. This then carries over into toddlerhood, when it’s harder to introduce new foods.
The easiest way to get more variety in, is to offer small portions or tastes of whatever you’re eating.
At 6 months, you can also start including your infant in mealtime. Pull their highchair up to the table, offer them small amounts of food, and cutlery or dish ware at their place.
The expectation here is that they are simply involved and allowed to explore the foods and dish ware. It sets the foundation for a meal time when the family sits down all together and eats.
2. Make food about more than eating… make it an activity.
Infants and young children are sensorial learners, meaning they learn with all of their senses. Offering food and expecting they will only want to experience it through taste is truly limiting them.
You might not want to hear the next part… but one of the best things you can do to get your child more interested in new foods is to let them play with it!
In infancy, you can start by simply offering foods to play with and explore with all their senses.
For example, one of the activities in our at-home program for infants is a citrus fruit exploration basket, where a 5-6 month old is presented with a basket of unpeeled citrus fruits and allowed to explore them independently.
This gives them the chance to smell it, roll it, feel the texture of the peel, etc. You can do the same thing at meal time. Simply offer food on their tray with the expectation that they may not swallow a single bite.
In toddlerhood, you can allow the exploration to continue by involving them in food prep. Show them how to wash, chop, mix, juice, peel, and mash the food.