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Thanksgiving has been an American tradition for centuries, allowing families to enjoy a range of foods with, of course, the signature turkey. Planning a Thanksgiving menu can be challenging if you have picky eaters around. However, taking time to plan allows you to prepare a meal that everybody will love.

Understand children’s behavior relative to food

Toddlers can be fickle about food. One day your baby loves a banana puree, then that same night they’ll turn away every time you try to bring a spoon to their mouth.

Older children may become picky eaters because a friend told them that “having a pumpkin pie isn’t cool anymore.” It’s normal because children develop a sense of belonging and security from friendships, affecting their ability to adjust to a change, such as switching to a Thanksgiving menu. You can take control of the situation by:

  • Emphasizing family mealtimes
  • Breaking the habit of bribing your child to eat certain foods
  • Being persistent in feeding your child a specific food

How to create a Thanksgiving dinner for picky eaters

Getting picky eaters excited for a Thanksgiving meal can be difficult. It’s good to have a strategy for subtly encouraging your child to enjoy their holiday meal. Here are some tips.

  • Include a food your child loves – When preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, include a dish your child loves. If you’re having dinner at a friend or family member’s home, you can make arrangements for them to include the food on the menu or bring the item with you. That guarantees your child will eat something at dinner.
  • Prepare them for Thanksgiving food – Many picky eaters won’t love traditional holiday dishes. Talk to them beforehand about the foods you’ll prepare that day and their benefits. Introduce them to these foods before Thanksgiving Day so the menu won’t be such a surprise of entirely new dishes.
  • Manage expectations – Sometimes at special family gatherings, like Thanksgiving, other family members may offer the child a special food or treat just because it’s a holiday. If they suggest something your picky eater loves, it will ruin your plans of encouraging new foods. To manage expectations, talk to the potential culprit, and tell them not to suggest any special foods to the child and follow your lead. This lets you set boundaries and exercise authority.

Are you worried that your picky eater won’t eat what you prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving? Contact Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics for healthy eating tips for children during the Thanksgiving holiday.