Tips for Dealing With a Picky Eater

Children's Health, Kids

Picky eating is often a part of a typical preschooler’s development. The good news is most children become comfortable eating a greater variety of foods as they grow older. These tips help parents deal with a picky eater and improve their diet.

Have Schedule for Meals and Snacks

Offering meals and snacks around the same time each day prevents anxiety related to when food is coming. Also, your meal and snack routine eliminates the constant snacking that keeps children from being hungry at mealtime.

Remember You’re Not a Short-Order Cook

When your picky eater rejects a meal, preparing a second meal your child requests sends the wrong message. Don’t let them realize they can throw a tantrum and you will make something else.  Children learn that eating the first meal offered is never necessary because someone will always cook something else.

Model Healthy Eating for Your Child

Children pay more attention to what parents do than what parents say. If your child sees you eating a wide variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.

Skip Bribes

Bribing your child with a treat or a dessert in return for eating their meals usually backfires. Your child learns to value sweets more than healthy foods.

Serve It Another Way

You may be disappointed that your child wouldn’t eat your famous homemade tomato soup. Next time, try tomato slices on a sandwich. Your child that refuses steamed carrots may love dipping raw carrot sticks in blue cheese dressing.

Be Persistent

Research on picky eating has found children need up to 15 exposures to accept a new food. In other words, even if you’ve served something a dozen times without success, don’t give up. You may just need a few more tries to get your child to eat the new food.

Picky eating is rarely a sign of a more serious condition. However, your child’s health care provider can address your concerns about growth, nutrition, or the possibility of an underlying condition.