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Feeding Picky Eaters

1. At meal times, aim for time to relax and enjoy each other, and the food. Relax and enjoy your meals and your child will too.

2. Don't label him "picky." This is waving the white flag, and it reinforces his stubborn, attention-getting behavior.

3. Give your child choices. Asking "Would you like raw or cooked carrots?" makes him feel more invested in the meal.

4. Avoid substitutions. Serving your child something else will make her hold out longer next time to get what she wants.

5. Make this deal with your child. He must take one bite, but after that he may say, "No, thank you" to more.

6. Steer clear of bribes. If you offer chips or a sweet for trying a food, your child will expect a reward every time.

7. Go the stealth route. Add pureed veggies to spaghetti sauce your child likes. Then let her know she's eaten them and "survived." Gradually make the puree chunkier.

8. Practice what you preach. You've got to set a good eating example. After all, you can't snack on corn chips and expect your child to munch on baby carrots.

9. Treat "no" as a temporary answer. It may take 15 times before she'll try a food and maybe even like it.

10. Most children adore cooking, and tasks like squeezing fresh orange juice or cracking eggs are well within the capabilities of a young child. It's amazing how being involved in the planning and preparation of a meal can stimulate a child's appetite.

11.  MAKE FOOD ATTRACTIVE AND FUN. Give small portions; it's not good to overload your child's plate. Also, children generally prefer smaller pieces of food so it's a good idea to make foods like mini burgers with new potatoes, small broccoli florets and mini carrots.

If you have a little "junk food junkie" who refuses to try anything new, play a game where you blindfold your child and give him several foods to taste -- some old favorites and some new -- and see if he can identify what they are!

Start your baby off on fresh baby food rather than jars of processed food with a shelf life of two years. If they are used to a variety of fresh flavors early on, they are much less likely to become picky eaters when you try to integrate them into family meals.

14. After school is a great time to get your child to eat something healthy as they generally come home starving. The trouble is that most children will grab a cookie or some potato chips. Try to have something ready prepared on the table. Even if it's just cut up fruit on a plate rather than whole fruit in a bowl or carrot and cucumber sticks with a dip. It's a good idea to have a low shelf in the fridge from which children can help themselves to tasty healthy snacks.

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