7 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

Helping Kids Overcome Picky Eating

If your child refuses to eat anything but plain noodles, you may have a picky eater at your table. The behavior starts as early as age 1, and signs include refusing foods often and only eating certain kinds. It can be frustrating to make sure your picky eater gets the vitamins and nutrients they need. The good news? Mercy Kids experts have some great tips for avoiding mealtime battles.

  1. Encourage without pushing. You can get your child to try new things without threatening their independence. The goal isn’t eating asparagus today – it’s about trying new things and eventually eating green veggies.
  2. Don’t bribe. Never bribe your child to eat or finish their food. Instead, serve smaller portions and point out the food’s color, appearance, aroma and texture to gain interest.
  3. Add an extra. That broccoli may be more appetizing to your toddler with ketchup on the side or cheese sauce on it.
  4. Offer choices. Rather than surrender and grab some cereal, try giving your child control over what they need to try. Offer a choice of green veggies to have with tonight’s dinner.
  5. Make them helpers. Getting kids to help prepare meals can make them more willing to try new things. And if they help mix ingredients or select the sides, they’ll take more ownership in the meal and want everyone to try it.
  6. Recognize appetite changes. If you hear, “I’m not hungry” at mealtime, it could be true. At age 2, kids need fewer calories per pound because their growth rate slows. If your child doesn’t eat much at one meal, watch it for a few days before you worry.
  7. Vary the prep. Try different food preparation styles. Your child may prefer roasted or fresh veggies to the boiled or canned varieties. Or keep it simple with raw foods like carrots.

Try not to get frustrated with your picky eater. Just make healthy foods available and give your child's appetite and eating behaviors time to mature. And if parents eat healthy, it’s more likely their children will, too. If you’re concerned about your child’s diet, talk with your Mercy Kids care team to determine whether other issues may be present.

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