If you're the parent of a child above the age of 1, you probably know how frustrating getting kids to eat healthy is. Almost every kid does it -- sometime after the first birthday, they start to realize that those green beans don't taste as good as they first thought, and chocolate milk is the only thing that exists as far as they are concerned. Suddenly, your former "good eater" turns his nose up at everything you put in front of him. What to do?
Realize that you are not alone here. Almost every parent goes through problems with getting kids to eat healthy, and it usually lasts for several years before most kids get to a point where they actually want to eat foods that are good for them. You haven't done anything wrong. Your child has not only got more advanced taste buds now, but he's also learning how to say "no," and let you know what he does and doesn't want. This is all part of that. Also, he's probably not going to starve even though you may think he is.
Offer Him Food Anyway
No one knows better than me that when money is tight, it's hard to let food go to waste. You're probably thinking, "Why give him the green beans if he's not going to eat them, and I'm just going to have to throw them away?" Well, if you don't offer them, there's zero chance that he will eat them because he won't have access to them. If you do offer them, there's a one percent chance he'll eat them because they are there in front of him.
Don't Hover in Front of Him While He Eats
Many parents put the food on their childs high chair and watch them like a hawk, begging and coaxing them to accept the food the entire time. If your child is big enough to feed himself, at least with his hands, just put the food in front of him and walk away. The more you try to coax him into eating, the more defiant he will be. If you put the food down and just ignore him, he might actually surprise you and sample what you've offered when he thinks you're not watching. With kids, they don't want to eat if they know you want them to. Make him think you don't care one way or another, and he'll be much more likely to try things.
Leave Snacks Around the House
If you're researching ways of getting kids to eat healthy, a good tip is to make up little bowls of healthy snacks and leave them in random places around your house. You could put a bowl full of raisins on the coffee table, some banana slices by the TV, or some whole grain crackers in his room. You get my drift. As your child wanders around, going about his day in your home, he's likely to snack on the things you've left out. This way if he eats little or none of his meals, you'll know that he at least had access to some snacks throughout the day.
Give Him a Multi-Vitamin
Multi-vitamins are not a replacement for actual food exactly -- they're more like insurance. If you've got a picky eater on your hands and you're interested in getting kids to eat healthy, you should make sure he takes his vitamins every day. This can give you peace of mind, even though it is better if his vitamins are derived from food sources.
Sneak Healthy Things Into What He Likes
Try altering the foods you know he'll eat with the ones he won't. You can easily disguise carrots in spaghetti or pizza sauce because they are orange. Just blend them up as fine as you can get them and mix them in. Chances are good he won't know. If you're able to get him to eat yogurt, try pureeing some other type of vegetable up into that.
When your child reaches the age of 5 or 6, he'll be easier to reason with when it comes to eating. You might still have problems getting him to eat everything you want him to, but you might have better luck convincing him to try things since he'll be older. Getting kids to eat healthy isn't an exact science, and your worries are probably for nothing. If you're super concerned and your child is losing weight rapidly, I suggest asking your child's doctor about other things you can do.