Parenting Tip: How To NOT Raise a Picky Eater

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I have a not so secret mantra when it comes to feeding my child - Picky eaters are not born, they are raised.

I know some mums are raising their eyebrows now. Coz I know a lot of mums have kids that are picky eaters. And I understand the frustration. Promise, I’m not here to judge.

As the eldest in our family, my younger siblings are also picky eaters and I swear! It is so difficult to plan a meal. Making my siblings eat vegetables are difficult enough so I know how crazy it was. Especially for poor families like us.

I’m a picky eater too. Well, I used to be a picky eater until college when I had to stay at a friend's house for overnight thesis and I was forced to eat the stuff I won't usually eat like ampalaya and okra. Now, they are not my favorite but I can eat them.

You see, I believe that we train our kids to eat. We are the ones who introduce them to food and so it is our responsibility to make sure that they are trained to eat properly.

The thing is, mums, this post is not created to blame you. Because I totally understand that it is indeed difficult. There are a lot of factors why our kids end up like that - MILs who just won't listen, our own mothers who insist on spoiling our children, our own kids who breaks our heart every time they cry and it’s really easier to feed them the not-so-good stuff because they are probably the readily available ones.

But let’s fight it together. I know that a little information could a long way. Did you know that Skye was also once a picky eater? I remember whacking my brains out when she was 7 months old because all the food I would lovingly prepare would eventually go to waste. I read different recipes. I would attempt to cook even if I don't really cook.

So on this post I am sharing my secret. Here are my tips on How NOT To Raise a Picky Eater.

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  1. Start feeding your child around 6 months. Not 4 months, not 3 months. But 6 months, or maybe a bit later, but never earlier. That is to make sure that their stomach is fully developed to handle solid food. They’d also enjoy the food more.
  2. Breastfeed. I just couldn’t help noticing that breastfed children are generally better eaters. That’s because they have stronger jaws na sanay mag “work”. Plus formula milk are usually high in sugar and we all know how addicting sugar is. So most probably, kids who drink formula wants to dede more than eat.
  3. Eat variety of food while pregnant. Studies show that babies could remember the taste of the food their mums eat while pregnant. So it is really advisable to eat variety of food so they could remember the different tastes. Eat lots of veggies too so they’d learn how to enjoy veggies as early as possible.
  4. Feed them whatever you eat. When Skye turned 6 months, I first introduce her to banana. Then kamote. Then apples. Just to see how she’d react. When we first introduce food to her, we gave her a small serving twice a day for 5 days. Then we gave her 3 small servings thrice a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. But by 8th month, her pedia advised us to give whatever it is we are having. As long as it’s not processed food. No more separate food for the baby. Easier for us. And I noticed that my baby enjoyed it more. Take note though that her serving should not contain preservatives and salt. So before you put salt and seasoning on the dish, pagtabi nyo na ang bagets.
  5. Eat with your child. Make her join you on the table. Your kids would appreciate the food more if you make them join you on the table. Have a pleasant conversation while eating as well. It’ll help set the mood.
  6. Set rules, be firm. You have to set rules when eating. My Papa’s main rule at home is that we should finish our food. No food must be left on the plate. So I always do that. But my mum is a bit lax. So I noticed that my siblings would only finish their meal when Papa is around. Now, I always make sure that my rules are implemented even if I’m not around. I would know because I have a toddler. Usually, if she showed signs that my rules are not firmly followed, mapapansin mo agad. And since I know my child really well, talagang walang lusot ang mga tao dito sa bahay. Mila would say nga na meron daw akong hidden camera sa bahay kasi never silang nakakalusot. Hahaha! Nope Mama. I just know my child really, really well.
  7. No sweets. No salty food. No junk food. No candies. No processed food especially hotdogs. As much as possible, do not give your child sweets or salty food. I have a total ban on sweets until 1 year old. Then I would allow her to try some sweets but never candies and just a teeny tiny bit of chocolates. Although I would allow her to eat a little bit of sweets, I try to make sure that I still give her healthy stuff. Like fruity ice creams. Or healthy desserts. Also no salty food. No chips. No junk food at all. Easy on biscuits. I am also firm on not giving my child processed food. No hotdogs at all. No soft drinks. No processed fruit juices. Daming bawal? Well, I have to make sure that my baby eats healthy. Did you know that your child’s first 1000 days are her most crucial stage? Make sure that you feed them right and take care of them really well coz their 1st 1000 days would usually define their future. So that’s during pregnancy until you child turns 2. Kaya ako talaga I am very watchful on my child’s crucial developmental stage. I want to raise her right. Plus if you introduce your child early on sweets and salty and processed food, talagang nakakawala sya ng gana sa pagkain. Believe me. Remember those are really addicting. So hahanap hanapin ng kids yun. Not good at all.
  8. Allow her to eat the way she wants to. We started with Baby Led Weaning. That means, I would allow her to eat on her own. No mashed food. No spoon feeding. But then I noticed that she’s sometimes want to be spoon fed. So we would spoon feed her. But most of the time she wants to hold her veggies or meat then would ask to be spoon fed with rice. We allow her to eat the way she wants to. That way, she’d be more independent and she’s enjoy eating more. But we always make sure that she understand that eating is NOT playing.
  9. Be a role model. Eat veggies and your child would eat them too. Stay away from sweets and junk food when your child is present (hihi, pag wala naman pwede naman lumusot). Show them who the parent is. If I tell Skye to eat her okra, she would eat it. Sometimes, she’d spit it out but I would make her eat it again. Until she’d enjoy it.
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I know it’s not easy. But really, you just have to be consistent. And I’m really proud every time my friends would comment on how much they adore my child because she’s not pihikan.

One time, a fellow mum officemate asked me what food she had to prepare for my daughter coz we’ll be visiting them. She was shocked when she said that she doesn’t have to prepare anything special. She cooked carbonara for us and I said that’ll be fine. Diba? So easy. I just brought bread so she could munch on them.

On the photo above and below, my daughter is munching on some pickled radish and she loved them. Training your child to eat well is not only beneficial for your child but to you as well. I have a very easy life because my daughter would eat everything. She also stopped bottle feeding on her own when she turned 13months. But we are still breastfeeding when we are together. She would drink fresh milk from the glass when at work. My life is super easy talaga.

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How about you fellow mums? Do you have any more tips? Or do you have any issues with feeding your child? Share them on the comment box below and let’s talk!

**Photos by Jomar Cui Photography.

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