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6 Tips for Overcoming Picky Eating

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Brenda Konietzko, MS, OTR/L

If you have a picky eater at home, it can be stressful but, rest assured, it’s normal. Healthy foods are an important part of your child’s development. Summer can be a great time to introduce your picky eater to new foods. Here are six tips you can try to get your toddler to eat delicious and nutritious foods that’ll set them up for good health.

  1. Grow a garden and let your toddler be part of the process. Teach your child about the different kinds of fruits and vegetables and then let them choose what to grow in the garden. Your toddler will be more likely to try a new food they’ve helped grow.
  2. Attend a farmer’s market and let your child pick out something they want to try. This will encourage your child’s natural need for independence. Giving your child a choice in what they eat can serve as a big help in overcoming picky eating habits.
  3. Encourage your toddler to help you with simple snack or meal prep and clean up. For example, allow them to peel the rest of an orange you have started, or help stir food. Allow them to help scrape or transfer leftovers with clean hands into a new container during clean up. Children are more likely to touch food they are cleaning up rather than being asked to eat. The next time they see the food, they will be more likely to eat it.
  4. Go on a picnic or eat a meal outside. Sometimes making the meal an exciting new adventure will help do the trick. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and be a little silly. It could really help.
  5. Work up an appetite by staying active. Instead of grabbing sports drinks, juice, milk, or other beverages that can fill up a little belly, try staying hydrated with plenty of water. Toddlers are more likely to try new foods when they’re hungry. Please offer food first, then drinks after.
  6. Add fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables into some of their favorite foods. There’s nothing better than a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie on a warm summer day. Or try blending vegetables into their favorite muffin recipe for a filling and healthy snack!

It’s OK if your child doesn’t like new foods on the first try. Sometimes it takes 10-15 times before a toddler will take to a new food. The key is to keep trying. As a parent, it’s your job to provide your child with a healthy and balanced meal. It’s your child’s job to decide when and how much they eat.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s picky eating, make an appointment to talk to your child’s pediatrician.