As we move into a stage where the twins are eating more solid foods and finger foods, they are developing their own taste preferences at meal times. Occasionally, one twin has decided she didn’t want to eat what was offered, while the other gobbled it up. I was worried at first because everything they have done has been the same up until now. They are fed the same amount of milk in their bottles, they have about the same number of dirty diapers each day, the sleep and wake at the same times… But what do you do if one twin wants to eat the meal but the other doesn’t? How do you handle different food preferences among twins?
Twins aren’t the only picky eaters, I know. I’ve heard many moms vent about how their child just won’t eat what was prepared. With twins, as with most picky eaters, there are some strategies you can take that may make them more open to eating various foods.
1. Encourage child to help you plan & make the meal-choose the veggies at the store, wash the fruit, put the ingredients in the bowl, etc.
2. At mealtimes, let them play with their food & experience its texture, colors, and scents. A new food is something that needs to be explored. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers experience life through their 5 senses. They need a chance to squish their peas, poke at the fish, push their chicken around on their plate. I’ve found that you can also disguise the food and make it more appealing. For example, a toddler may not want to eat a tuna sandwich. But he might be open to trying a tuna sandwich cut into the shape of a star!
3. Introduce a new food with a favorite (something you know they will eat). I once knew a boy whose mother prided herself on the fact that he ate nothing but hot dogs and cheese sticks for a long time. But his picky preferences weren’t the death of him. If you serve the hot dog or cheese stick with something he isn’t a real fan of, chances are you can get him to nibble on the less favorite food. If not, at least he’s eating something.
4. Don’t provide an alternative. That’s why #3 is important. Your kids need to know that you are the one in charge, and if you make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every time they refuse the healthy dinner recipe that you slaved in the kitchen over, you are sending the the message that this is ok behavior. They may get used to this and expect you to make them their own special sandwich, no matter what the meal is. So stay strong, be firm, and make sure there is at least one thing on the plate you know your child will eat .
5. Set a good example. If you are a choosy eater, your kids will see this and follow your lead. You can still be picky, just keep it from your kids . Show them that you eat a variety of foods, and maybe even be obvious about it. “Mmmm!!! I’ve never had ___ before, but I love it!”
Well, those are the strategies we use in our home to encourage healthy eating and trying new foods. There are some things that my big boy simply doesn’t like (onions, mushrooms, and avocados). But he eats pretty much everything else I feed him, or he will at least try it. Hopefully the twins will turn out to like healthy recipes as well!
Do you have a picky eater? How do you handle feeding him or her?