Picky Eaters

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Most children go through stages of being picky about what and how they eat. Many books have been written about how to get young children to eat a variety of foods so you can see that this is a common problem, often without a simple solution!

However, some babies and young children with visual impairments can be particularly resistant to trying new foods. Sometimes this can be especially true of premature babies or those who have disabilities in addition to their visual impairments, possibly because they may be particularly sensitive to new textures or smells.

It's important to avoid getting into power struggles with children of any age over food. At the same time, it's equally important for your child to have a varied and balanced diet and to be open to new experiences. Offering a wide variety of foods during the first year with different tastes, smells, and textures may encourage your child to eat and may encourage her to try a wider range of foods later on.

If you have any concerns about whether your baby is getting the nutrition she needs or, conversely, is consuming more calories than she should, consult with your child's pediatrician. If your child is reluctant to try certain foods or textures, here are a few tactics you might want to consider:

  • Once your child's pediatrician says it's time to start giving your baby solid foods and provides guidelines about how often to introduce a new food, try to follow those recommendations—even if it's just a tiny taste the first time around.
  • Naming the food and letting your child taste a tiny bit of the new food on your finger or on her lips may make it easier for her to accept it.
  • If your child resists a new food, put it aside for that meal, rather than getting into a power struggle over it. At the next meal, give her that food first. She's more likely to try a new food when she's most hungry.
  • Serve the new food in small portions over several days to let your child get used to it.
  • There are certain foods that children refuse to eat if there are any chunks or lumps in them. To avoid this problem, introduce the food in an absolutely smooth form. Then, once your child is eating it consistently, add texture to it—add a few pieces of stewed tomatoes or small chunks of cooked carrots to tomato soup, or go from smooth applesauce to chunky, or smooth peanut butter to crunchy.
  • Your child may find mashed table food more to her liking than baby food from a jar. Having her eat the same foods you do may also make the transition to regular table food easier.
  • Mix a food you know your child likes with a small amount of the new food. If this works, over time, gradually increase the amount of the new food mixed in with the old.

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