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Your 3-year-old now
Preschoolers are seldom gourmands — they're too busy to be too interested in food, Some kids, though, are more adventuresome eaters than others. If you have one who tends to be finicky, you need to walk the fine line between haranguing and giving up. If you force foods on your child or try to make her clean her plate, she's apt to dig in her heels. You don't want to surround mealtimes and food with too much emotion. Don't let fussiness stop you from presenting healthy choices, though.
Many preschoolers go through a stage of fearing new foods. They'd rather skip the park for a week than let a single broccoli floret pass their lips. But this is also the age when children develop the food habits they'll have for a lifetime, so it's best to keep trying. Nutritionists have found that a new food may need to be presented as many as 20 times before a child will agree to try it. What's happening those other 19 times is that the child is growing more familiar with it. Even if she acts indifferent, she's smelling it, eyeing it, seeing how it feels in her hand or on a fork. She's also watching you eat it, which is another way of familiarizing herself. Obviously it's impossibly frustrating to prepare a special, nutritious dish for your child only to have it rejected again and again. This is another reason it's a good idea to offer your child small portions of whatever you've made for yourself (and another reason to cook nutritious food for yourself!).
Bottom line is, you're in charge of what food comes into the house and what gets put on the table. Your child is in charge of what goes in her mouth.
Your life now
As you watch your child branch out into a wider sphere of playmates, it's not uncommon to be a tiny bit anxious: Will she be well liked? Make friends easily? It's reassuring to know that some children mature socially later than others and may not have a strong interest in interacting with other kids until after they turn 4 or 5. Some kids are more naturally reserved. Neither situation, though, means you'll have a wallflower for life. With time, encouragement, and opportunity, your child's social world will expand. You may need to act as the social director for a while, arranging playdates or inviting a preschool mate for a snack.
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