A child's menu starts out simply: milk or formula when they're first born. Next, you introduce them to crackers and rice cereal. Soon, fruits, vegetables and maybe an ice cream cone or two are thrown into the mix.
But almost every child reaches an age where they refuse to try new foods and only likes to eat what they know. Every night leads to another plea for chicken nuggets. But it doesn't have to happen - at least not with so much stress. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some advice to keep your picky eater from being so... picky.
Most children become picky eaters around 18 months. "It's almost a perfect storm of two events," says Kelly. "By 18 months, their growth is really slowing down. They just don't need to eat as much... [They also] have a mind of their own and like to say 'no'."
Kelly suggests you offer a variety of foods to your child. "Keep trying," says Kelly. "It may take ten times, but eventually, they'll eat it."
Remember to also do as you say; you need to eat a varied diet that includes the foods that you're trying to feed your child. If you're trying to feed them broccoli but you're not eating it, your child will follow your example.
Some studies have shown that mothers who eat different types of foods while they're pregnant have children who are less likely to become picky eaters themselves. Babies get a taste of everything you eat while they're in the womb, so if you eat a lot of carrots while you're pregnant, your child is more likely to enjoy eating carrots.
One way to make mealtime fun is to give food new names. Be creative. "One really common one is calling broccoli 'trees'," says Kelly. Offer salad as a "desert" if you have to. Making food more fun is a great way to get kids to try it.
Keep in mind too that a child doesn't have to eat everything that's on their plate. "When he's done, he's done," says Kelly. Don't force your children to eat if they're not hungry - be sure to respect their appetite.
If your child continues to be a picky eater, do your best to avoid being a short-order cook. Don't make a different meal for every member of the family. It can be inconvenient and adds extra stress to mealtime. "You'll just make yourself crazy," says Kelly.
For more information on picky eaters, as well as other parenting advice, click here.
By Erin Petrun
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.