While the holiday season looks a little different this year, there is still plenty of food and fun to be had with the members of your household. But we know planning holiday festivities during a global health pandemic can also be stressful, especially for those parents with picky eaters.
There are a few ways to encourage picky eaters during the holiday season.
Get your child involved with food preparation.
Make time to have fun with your child, such as making party mix, a fruit or vegetable tray in the shape of a Christmas tree, chocolate covered pretzels, or holiday cookies. You can make this a fun sensory experience by buying pre-rolled cookie dough, or use your favorite recipe. Your child can express their creativity here as well, with icing and decorating cakes, cookies, or cupcakes. Allow your child’s hands to get messy and use his or her imagination! Let your child know how much you’re enjoying spending time with him or her.
Plan what your child will eat before serving the meal.
If your holiday spread doesn’t include something your child won’t eat, make sure you add in something you know they like. If you are planning a later than normal meal, make sure he/she has a snack earlier in the day. This can prevent your child from being cranky so that he or she can enjoy the festivities.
Do not pressure your child into eating new foods.
Encouragement will be more effective than embarrassing your child or force feeding them. If you have many options for food, you can ask your child to try something new. Encouraging your child to try a new food doesn’t need to involve them eating it; they can lick it, touch it, or even play with it to get more comfortable eating it. When everyone is going to sit down at the table, prepare your child’s plate with food you know he or she will eat along with a small plate on the side with items to sample.
All in all, try to stay positive. Even though mealtime in the holidays can seem stressful with a child that is a picky eater, try to have fun and enjoy your time with your family.
If you feel like eating is an ongoing issue with your child, ask your pediatrician for a referral to a feeding specialist. They will be able to assess your child and can determine if your child would benefit from therapy.