Tips for Picky Eaters

Getting kids to try new foods is not always as simple as, “just take one bite.” Appearances, tastes, smells, textures, temperatures, and names can all be intimidating when exploring new foods. Making mealtime more enjoyable for both you and your child is important. Below are a few nutrition strategies that can help your child develop a positive relationship with food and mealtime:

 1. Create a Routine

Serving meals at the same time everyday can reduce stress and provide consistency in your child’s schedule! When serving new foods at meals make sure to pair it with a child’s preferred or favorite food.

 2. Make Eating Fun

We always hear “don’t play with food,” but this can be a great way to explore new foods. Try painting with sauces, using veggies or fruits to make faces, using cookie cutters to cut sandwiches and other foods into fun shapes, or creating a sensory bin to explore.

 3. Story Telling

Have your child pick out new foods to try at the store and then read about them, talk about them in a positive way, and then prepare the foods together. If your child does not eat them, that is okay, becoming familiar with new foods in a low-pressure, positive way eventually can help your child become a more flexible eater.

 4. Make Small Steps

Slowly explore the new foods by having your child first tolerate it in their direct space, and then move on to touching it, smelling it, “kissing” it, licking it, and eventually tasting it.

 5. Offer Choices and Control

When preparing food for mealtime, involve your child in the decision-making process. Give them a choice between two vegetables or offer them five choices and have them pick two. For example, offer pasta or rice, broccoli or carrots, and chicken or ground turkey, and have them build the meal.