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They Say: Got a Picky Eater? Try Picture Books

3538787546_e39ca11bf4Parents of toddlers, here’s a tip:  Next time you’re at your local library, pick up some board books with pictures of fruits and vegetables to read to your tot.  A new study suggests that babies and toddlers who look at pictures of unfamiliar foods first were more likely to eat them at mealtime.


The study, out of Reading University, focused on those notoriously picky eaters:  One-year-olds.  Researchers sent parents home with picture books that contained pictures of different types of fruits and vegetables.  After two weeks, the toddlers were offered a plate of fruit and a plate of vegetables, both with familiar and unfamiliar foods on them.  They found that kids were more likely to try an unfamiliar food if it had been in their picture book, and that they were less likely to chose unfamiliar foods that had not been pictured.

Study leader Dr. Carmel Houston-Price said the finding may lead to techniques that help parents of particularly picky eaters.  “We think that showing children pictures of healthy foods might work to increase their willingness to taste them,” she told the Telegraph. “In the future we will examine whether picture books might be used to help parents introduce new foods at home, and whether parents whose children are fussy eaters might particularly benefit from this strategy.”

Can’t hurt, right? And looking at books together is a great bonding experience. But it’s also important to remember that it’s perfectly normal for one-year-olds to be discerning about their food experiences. Just because they won’t eat your favorite curry today doesn’t mean they won’t be begging for it a few years from now. Visit Dr. Sears for more tips on coping with a picky eater.

Photo: roxeteer, Flickr

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