How to Handle Picky Eaters at Home

If you have a toddler or young child, you know that meal times aren’t always easy. Although many children go through a picky eater stage, it’s important to keep their diet balanced and healthy. Check out these tips from AGC Pediatrics.

How to Handle Picky Eaters at Home

​Picky eating is a normal stage for children to go through, especially when trying to assert their independence, but it can sometimes turn family meal times into more of a battle than you bargained for. To help combat meal time feuds, check out these picky eater strategies from AGC Pediatrics to persuade your a-la-carte munchers into eating what’s on the menu at home.

Don’t Give Up

​Most new things take time getting used to, and this is especially true when it comes to new foods. Don’t get discouraged when your 3-year-old snubs their nose at the zucchini on their plate. Typically, a child needs to be exposed to a food 10-15 times before their taste buds adjust to the flavor.

Have them try just one bite each time you serve it. Before you know it, your zucchini-snubbing child might just be the vegetable’s newest fan. If they still don’t like the food after 15 tries, it may be a food they’re not quite ready for.

Make Food Fun

​Culinary experts know that presentation is a large part of the tasting experience. The more attractive a meal looks, the more inclined we are to enjoy the taste. This is true for your kids as well. Kids learn and interact with the world around them through play, so use this to your advantage.

While a pile of cherry tomatoes may not be very appealing, a slice of mozzarella cheese stacked with a basil leaf and a cherry tomato ladybug on top might sway even the pickiest of eaters. Search for creative ways to dress up your meals online or ask friends what they’ve tried.

Invite Friends to Enjoy Meal Times

​Kids watch what others do and often mimic what they see, which could explain why your 5-year-old surprises you with quips like, “Just five more minutes, okay?” or “See you later, Mommy.”

Use this to your advantage to conquer picky eater habits, especially if you have a child that loves to be around people. Invite an adventurous friend over and sit them next to your picky eater. Without saying a word, your little one may want to try their carrots because they see a close friend eating them.

Don’t Force the Subject

​There are lots of reasons why a kid might be a picky eater. While it may be frustrating to see your carefully prepared food turned down for a bowl of cereal, making meals into an argument can further a picky eater’s cause.

Instead of a tense family meal, ask your child to eat a small bite of each thing on their plate, ensuring that at least one food is something your child really enjoys. If this is a regular expectation at the table, they’ll be able to try new foods without feeling like they have to clear their plate. They may end up liking more foods than they realized and over time, their palates will adjust to a wider variety of tastes.

With these simple strategies, you’re well on your way to conquering picky eating at home. Want to learn more about getting your child to eat healthy? Check out more of AGC Pediatrics’ healthy eating tips.