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According to a new study, parents of children who are picky eaters should consider different approaches in feeding their children because forcing their children to eat may be counterproductive.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics said that picky eating is a common characteristic among children aged four to nine. The study identified three picky-eating trajectories among the children—persistently high, persistently medium, and persistently low. The researchers found that eating habits seem to be influenced by how mothers feed their children. They also observed that some children outgrow picky eating, while others do not.
Researchers said that determining whether a child’s picky eating is temporary or not can help parents find effective ways to change the behavior.
The study analyzed the data of 317 pairs of mothers and children from low-income families in the United States. The mothers reported on their feeding strategy and their children’s body measurements, eating habits, and ability to control their emotions.
Based on the results, girls and children who have difficulty controlling their emotions are more likely to be persistently high picky eaters. Mothers who were more demanding and restrictive when it comes to their children’s diet also tended to have children who were picky.
To introduce new food to children, a spokesperson from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggested involving children in planning and preparing meals instead of being demanding or restrictive about food. She added that kids are more likely to try a dish they helped to cook.
In addition, a related study found that saying why a particular food is good for the body instead of serving it frequently without discussion helps convince a child to eat the food.