A young girl reaches for more food while eating at a table.

Mealtime Strategies for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters sometimes require creative parents in order to introduce new foods and enforce healthy eating habits.

Picky eating often occurs around the time children start feeding themselves—when they feel like they have control over what they put into their mouths. It may seem like a never-ending battle, but don’t stress. There are ways to get your picky eater to try new foods.

Tips for Managing Picky Eaters

Make It Fun
Use a cookie cutter to make apples and cucumbers fun shapes, make breakfast for dinner or serve foods in a variety of different colors.

Try a New Texture
When kids don’t want to eat certain foods, it’s often because they don’t like the texture. If your child refuses to eat soft foods, try raw carrot sticks instead of cooked carrots or a baked potato instead of mashed potatoes.

Provide Options
Keep introducing new foods, even if your child has refused them before. Often, children need to be offered new foods several times before trying them.

Personalize the Utensils
If your child is happier eating off of a colored plate or using a special spoon, they may be open to eating what’s in front of them.

Serve it with Dip
Use healthy dipping sauces for a fun way to encourage kids to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Change the Scenery
Plan a backyard picnic or have a tea party. Making mealtime fun can encourage children to eat more.

Sneak in Some Stealth Nutrients
To add a nutrient boost to everyday foods, try these delicious tricks:

  • Put fruit, such as sliced bananas or strawberries, in fortified cereal
  • Add a slice of tomato, lettuce and cheese to sandwiches
  • Make whole-wheat pizza with extra vegetables
  • Add vegetables and lean meat, fish or prawns to fried rice or noodle dishes
  • Camouflage vegetables by mincing them and adding them to soups, sauces and smoothies
  • Bake healthier sweets, such as zucchini muffins, squash bread and carrot cake
  • Make popsicles out of yogurt or fruit juices

Remember to encourage a positive mealtime experience for your child. If your child associates stress or negative emotions around trying new foods, they may be less open to them. Keep an optimistic attitude and your child might just surprise you.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.
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