By Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RD
The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RD to write this blog post.
Have a picky eater?
Kids who are selective, often have a hard time getting what they need to be healthy. That’s why I help moms and dads teach their kids to like foods like eggs. Eggs are one food that I highly recommend to parents of small children.
Eggs are a naturally nutrient rich choice providing a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients, including high-quality protein. It’s especially important to know that eggs are one of the most concentrated food sources of choline. Choline is essential for children for proper brain development. The Adequate Intake of choline for children ages 1-3 is 200 mg per day. A large egg has about 150 mg of choline. So, including eggs regularly in their diet is a great way to ensure a steady source of choline for your little one’s brain development.
Some selective children may reject eggs. There are tools you can use though. You can help your child move beyond the initial rejection and learn to like them.
First, allow your child to decide whether to eat a piece of egg or not. I like to refer to this as the “no pressure” policy. My favorite thing to say to my own children if they reject a food is, “You don’t have to eat it.” Make sure that there is at least one food at every meal that your child does like. Removing pressure is important, because even being forced to take one bite can cause kids to dislike a food for a long time.
Once there is no pressure, your child will be much more likely to start to explore new foods. At that point, make sure that you are serving eggs frequently. This is called “exposure.” You want them to see eggs often enough that eggs become routine and normal, not new or scary.
Next, think about what your child does and doesn’t like. There may be specific things about eggs that children don’t like. It could be the shape, temperature, or texture. So, try changing things up! Serve hardboiled eggs warm and cold. If the shape is the problem, you can use some mini cookie cutters to cut new shapes into an egg cooked flat. If texture is the problem, you can try different textures such as hard boiled, scrambled, or an omelet. If you experiment, you may find a method of preparing eggs that your child loves.
Finally, find a way to make eggs novel. Give them a new name like “super hero eggs” or serve them with a new utensil. Cut them into a new shape. Have your child come help you in the kitchen and cook them together. Dye eggs together. All of these little things can add up to a child learning to taste and explore eggs.
Make sure and give your child time to learn to like eggs. Sometimes it can take a lot of exposures before children learn to like something new. In the meantime, you can include eggs in baking and casseroles to make sure your child is getting all of the nutritional benefits of eggs.
Jennifer Anderson is the registered dietitian nutritionist behind @kids.eat.in.color on Instagram and mom of 2.