Has your first grader refused to eat anything other than peanut butter and jelly for the past month? Can’t get your toddler to finish anything on her plate? Don’t worry—you’re not the only parent who’s had to deal with a picky eater. Ensure your meals are stress-free and nutritious by following our parent-tested tips below.
- Don’t offer alternatives – If you prepare a separate meal for your child every time he or she rejects your planned meal, you may be encouraging picky eating. Don’t force your child to eat what you’ve prepared, but do make sure your child stays at the table.
- Eliminate distractions – Do you normally listen to the radio or TV during dinner? Does your family actively use their electronic gadgets at the table? Stop. By eliminating electronic distractions, your child will be more likely to focus on eating.
- Be sneaky – Add chopped or pureed fruits and vegetables to pasta sauces, soups, and casseroles.
- Evaluate your dinner – What are you serving? If you’re not eating a variety of healthy, nutritious foods, your kid isn’t going to want to eat those either. Make sure you’re setting a positive example.
- Shop together – Bring your kids grocery shopping and allow them to pick out a new fruit or vegetable each week. When you pick out and cook food together, your kids are more likely to eat it.
- Be consistent – With scheduled meals, not food. Serve meals at the same time every day and don’t allow your kids to fill up on snacks.
- Compromise – Serve new foods on the same plate with your child’s favorite foods. Talk about colors, textures, and smells rather than taste to encourage exploration.
Still picky? It might just be a phase. If you have any concerns about your child’s nutrition or eating habits, make sure you talk to your pediatrician.