Training parents is key to helping children eat a variety of foods

Families dealing with the stress and frustration of their child's overly picky eating habits may have a new addition to their parental toolbox. Pediatric researchers recently described a brief group cognitive-behavioral therapy program that provides parents with specific techniques to improve their child's mealtime behaviors and expand the range of foods their children will eat.

Children were challenged at home to chew and swallow a portion of a new or non-preferred food and a successful challenge resulted in a post-meal reward. The majority chose screen time.

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Sounds related to parents urging children to eat just one bite of a new food, but this has concrete and specific rewards.

Vaguely related: I read about how many cultures outside the US don't have "children's menus" or special "children's" foods. Once kids start eating solid food, they eat basically what everyone else does, perhaps adjusted at first for spiciness.

One of many articles with more advice for parents of picky eaters:

8 ways to deal with picky eaters

"Research has shown that it actually takes about 15 tries before children will like a new food. Repeated exposure and persistence is key." And "Repeated exposure doesn’t always have to mean eating... Let your child pick up, smell, squish and lick all sorts of new foods with no pressure to eat them."

Two other bits of popular specific advice: 

Food chaining or "gateway foods": building on the foods your kid already eats by introducing foods with similar tastes or textures, in small steps. For example, someone who likes chicken nuggets could be exposed to other brands and shapes of chicken nuggets, then other flavors (or dipping sauces), then breaded chicken patties, then chicken strips that aren't breaded, ultimately to other cuts of chicken.

The rotation rule: don't serve the same food two days in a row. Keep serving "safe" foods, but different ones from what you served yesterday, together with new foods. This can also combat brand addiction.




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