Strategies for Parents of Picky Eaters


Do you have a picky eater on your hands, or did you grow up to be a picky eater yourself? If so, it’s not as rare as it may seem. In fact, just around 30 to 50 percent of parents say that they have raised a picky eater.

If you are having trouble getting your kids to try a new healthy food, we have you covered. There are a number of techniques that can encourage your little one to choose an apple over a sugar-filled snack. You can start by preparing one food in several ways, encouraging your child to help you prepare meals, introducing new food alongside foods you already know they like, and, finally, keeping it fun!

Offer a Variety of the Same Food

Not sure how to get your child to try a new food? It’s time you change how you prepare certain foods. Pickiness can come from a number of different things, and one of those is texture. By cooking or cutting foods in different ways, you can create a new texture. For example, if you’d like your child to try a simple potato, you can create mashed potatoes, potato chips, baked potatoes, and fries. You never know when something might just end up looking a little more appetizing to your child. A few ideas for how to prepare healthy foods include the following:

  • Roasting
  • Steaming
  • Frying
  • Grilling
  • Pickling

Before you give up on a new food, try preparing it in a few ways or adding different seasonings.

Add New Foods Alongside Favorites

Are you concerned your little picky eaters aren’t getting all of their vitamins and minerals? Children can easily become deficient in essential things like iron, zinc, and fiber when they restrict the types of foods they eat. To avoid potential deficiencies, introduce new foods alongside foods you already know your child enjoys. For instance, you could start by placing a couple of carrots on the same plate as their chicken nuggets or add spinach to a fruit smoothie. This gives your child the opportunity to gradually get used to new foods.

Have Kids Help with Meal Prep

Some may say that picky eating is just a passing phase, but for many that is not the case. According to The New York Times, 75 percent of adults who are picky say it stemmed from their eating habits as a child. Get a head start on breaking picky eating habits by having your child help you with the cooking process. Your child may be more excited to eat a meal that they helped create. They also get the advantage of learning and understanding why different ingredients are important. Give this method a try the next time you cook a meal for your family.

Make It Fun

Mealtime doesn’t have to be a struggle. In fact, it can become an exciting adventure your child looks forward to. Get creative with how you present foods to your child, whether that be cutting a cucumber in a heart shape or making funny noises every time you take a bite of broccoli.

Demanding your child to eat a certain food can have the opposite effect. Kids want to feel like they have options and respond better to positive reinforcement. The next time your child doesn’t want to eat a vegetable they are given, allow them the opportunity to pick from a couple of different options. Keeping things light-hearted can lower the pressure that is on both of you.

Don’t dread and overthink your child’s meals. Make them more enjoyable by offering your little one food prepared in a variety of ways, incorporating their favorite foods with ones they aren’t too sure about, making lasting memories by including them in the preparation process, and lastly, keeping it playful and positive.

A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.


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