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8 Simple Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters
Meal times are so much less fun when you have a picky eater at home!
The power struggles….
The melt downs…
Convincing your child in any way you can to simply eat the food you made!
Like, you made this meal specifically because you knew they liked it, and now they won’t eat it?
Come on now, what gives?!?
I’m going to guess, since you’re reading this, that you may have a picky eater or know someone who does, even if it’s just during the toddler picky eating and want to show their independence stage.
They can be so hard to feed sometimes!
Or, maybe it’s an older child who is a picky eater; I know I’ve always been a pretty picky eater.
If you ask my oldest daughter, she would say she’s ‘picky’, too. And she WAS extremely picky…
But, honestly, she’s really not that picky anymore; I figured out how to get her to try any food I put in front of her, and I share it all in my online course ‘Kids Aren’t Born Hating Veggies’!
If you’re not sure if you need a full course to help with your picky eater problem, and just want the simple tips, then keep reading.
Because sometimes it’s just a phase…
But, sometimes it’s more than that.
Either way, there are some things we can do to get our picky eaters to eat more of a variety of healthy foods, and even dig a bit deeper to find out why they won’t eat certain foods.
Want to Remember This? Pin 8 Simple Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters to your favorite Pinterest Board!!
Before I get into the tips for dealing picky eaters, I want to answer a few questions you may have about your picky eater.
What do you feed picky eaters?
They eat what they like, or what they like out of what they are given to eat.
Most picky eaters will be able to find something in a meal given to them that they might like.
I say most, because there will be some who will refuse to eat anything you give them, which is super frustrating!
You should feed them the same food as everyone else in the family, no special meals or anything like that. Or, not unless it is absolutely necessary, such as with children with sensory eating issues.
Sensory eating issues can make eating certain foods physically painful. Find out more about that here.
Way back when I first started writing about feeding kids, I was dealing with my own picky eater at home.
And, I thought I had come up with the best plan ever to ensure she ate dinner every night, even after she refused to eat what I gave her.
I would let her make her own alternate dinner, something really easy to make (she was 4).
Turns out, it sometimes just requires a little (ok, a lot) of patience and not budging on what you’re making for a family meal to help your picky eater actually eat what’s on their plate.
I can’t guarantee this will work for all picky eaters, but it’s worth a try!
So, stop being a short order cook. Cook one meal for everyone, sit down and eat, and just let your picky eater eat what they will.
How can I help a picky eater?
You can help your picky eater by not giving into them every time they say they don’t like something.
This, I’ve learned from experience.
If you give in and make them only food they say they like, then they will only eat that food.
You have to stay strong and serve them the food you make, even if they say they don’t like it.
Stop driving yourself insane trying to please them all the time!
Do picky eaters grow out of it?
For some children, it is just a phase, like toddlerhood.
They want to test their limits to see how far you will go to please them, or they want to show their independence by choosing what they eat, or what they don’t eat.
In other cases, some people never grow out of being picky eaters.
They may get less picky over time, but they might not.
Encouraging them to not be so picky with the tips below will certainly help.
Especially if you can figure out why they are so picky with their food in the first place. Then you’ll be better prepared to help them not be so picky!
How do you get a picky eater to try new foods?
You get a picky eater to try new foods the same way you get any child to try new foods; you put the food in front of them.
If there’s one thing I remember from my psychology of learning class; it’s that we don’t eat when we’re hungry, we eat when we have food in front of us.
If you don’t like that answer, because it is pretty vague, read the tips below for more ways to get picky eaters to try new foods, or eat more of a variety.
NEED MORE THAN 8 TIPS?
8 Simple Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters
1. Add healthy food into foods they already love
If you have an extremely picky eater and they absolutely refuse to eat an entire food group, let’s say it’s veggies, then there are still ways to get the nutrients from veggies into your child!
You put them in food they already love!
For example, if they love chocolate cake, you could shred up some zucchini or carrots and add them to the cake.
Or, add them to smoothies or make popsicles from those smoothies. There are tons of ways to get veggies into your child, with or without them knowing!
You can check out some more examples and get some recipes from the posts below:
Just try not to truly ‘hide’ the veggies, because that can result in a host of other issues down the road…say when they start making food for themselves…plus..
2. Challenge them to ‘eat the rainbow’ everyday
Something that may be a really fun way to get your picky eater to eat more of a variety is to challenge them to ‘eat the rainbow’ everyday.
And, no, I don’t mean skittles, or any other artificially colored candies, either!
I mean ‘eat the rainbow’ from different colored fruits an veggies.
And, there are more benefits to doing this than to help your picky eater eat more of a variety of foods. Different colored fruits and veggies contain different vitamins and minerals.
So really, everyone should be doing this everyday!
Don’t be afraid to join them in this challenge, and see who can eat the rainbow first during the day!
3. Make healthy food in a variety of ways; don’t stick to the same recipes
Another way to help your child eat a variety of foods, is by you actually making a variety of foods. Or, at least, making foods in different ways.
Maybe your child doesn’t like one recipe that you make all the time, so they tell you that and you think that they don’t like the food that’s in it.
But, if you break that meal down into it’s different ingredients and then make one of the ingredients a different way, maybe, just maybe, they’ll love it and want to eat it more. Or, at least be willing to try it different ways!
For example, I used to only use quinoa in a quinoa stew recipe I have, with corn and potatoes. But, my daughter would always complain and say she doesn’t like quinoa.
So, I finally, decided to make quinoa another way for her. I actually added it to a smoothie, and she loved it!
She then even went into the fridge the next night to find the plain quinoa I had used and added some berries and brown sugar to it, and said she didn’t mind that either.
Just remember, it may not be the food they don’t like, it might just be the way your make it!
4. Consider the texture of the food
Another big reason some kids may act so picky around a food is because of the way it feels when they eat it.
Maybe it’s too hard for them to chew, like raw veggies.
Or, they don’t like that they can feel the chia seeds on their tongue when they eat it.
The texture of the food can be a big reason why your child doesn’t like the food given.
Try asking them, if you can, why they don’t like a certain food. And, if it’s because of the way it feels when they eat it; try making it a different way.
Steam their veggies so they get softer, grind up the chia seeds before adding them to their food. Don’t give up on giving them a certain food before you know why they don’t like it, it could be a simple fix!
5. Have your child grow their own food
Sometimes having your child be close to their food will help encourage them to eat it.
If they grow a fruit or vegetable from a seed, then they may feel so proud and can’t wait to try the food they grew. After all, now they know where it came from!
My two oldest kids help me grow food every spring, and my oldest (who was a very picky eater) can never wait for some to start to grow in so she can eat it!
6. Have your child help you make their own food, or recipes
Sometimes all it takes to help picky eaters eat more of a variety, is to let them make their own food, or at least help.
If they’re helping you in the kitchen make dinner, then they can see exactly what goes into it, how it’s prepared, and maybe even help make part of it.
This will give them ownership over making some of their food themselves, which can go a long way in getting them to eat it, or at least try a few bites!
Who knows, maybe your picky eater will grow into a recipe developer.
Maybe the only reason they’ve been so picky is because they wanted to know how the food is made and didn’t want to eat it without knowing.
It could just be that your child is very independent and wants to make their food themselves, or help make it.
Unsure what your child can do in the kitchen?
Be sure to grab this FREE ‘Ages and Stages’ PDF, created by Katie Kimball of Kids Cook Real Food. She’s a mom of 4 who has been teaching kids to cook real food for years! She knows her stuff when it comes to kids in the kitchen, so much that she even had a TEDx talk about it!!
7. Have your child pick out new foods to try at the store (or online)
If you’re trying to get your child to try new foods, try letting them pick out the new food they are going to try.
Some children just don’t like being told what to do, what to eat, and when.
They are trying to show their independence.
And, if there is one thing I’ve learned from raising a strong willed toddler; it’s that sometimes you have to just choose your battles and be alright with them choosing some things themselves.
Whether it’s what they wear for the day (mismatched socks, leggings, a frilly flower skirt, a butterfly shirt, and a dress on top) or with the next food they try.
8. Make eating healthy fun; use cookie cutters for their fruits and veggies, make pictures with them, etc.
If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you have probably seen the adorable scenes made out of food.
Now, before you start saying that you would never be able to create something so beautiful with healthy food; know that most little kids won’t care too much about what it looks like.
In fact, they’ll think it’s cool that mommy’s playing with their food.
They may even have some suggestions for what you can do; or they may even take over and start doing it themselves!
So, grab your cookie cutters and start having some fun playing with your kids food!
They’ll want to join in the fun, and may even think it’s funny to eat part of it!
Dealing with Picky Eaters
As you can see, there are many ways you can help your picky eater eat better and try a variety of foods.
Maybe you have to be a little more creative than usual, or simply give them more responsibility and more choices.
Sometimes kids just like to be independent and choose what goes into their own body; nothing wrong with that, they should get to choose.
Other times they might just not like the way you make the food, so change up how you make it.
There’s no 1 way for dealing with picky eaters.
There will be trial and error…
Just don’t give up when it comes to feeding your picky eaters healthy foods, they may even thank you for your efforts when they’re older and have to make meals for themselves….or their picky eater kids!
Need MORE info on dealing with picky eaters, why they are so picky, and plenty more proven strategies to get your child to eat what you want them to?