Help for your picky eater

Messy little girl feeding herself with a spoon

Unaltered image. Matt Preston, Flickr. CC license.

Having a picky eater can be quite a challenge. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through your journey.

  • Have fun by giving familiar foods a catchy name.
    • Turn broccoli into “little trees”.
    • Serve a “sunshine sandwich” instead of grilled cheese.
    • Offer “bunny food” instead of veggie sticks or salad.
  • Cut food into shapes (cookie cutters are a great tool) or present it in a fun way (like a smiley face).
  • Serve smaller portion sizes. Have you noticed that kids like things served in little cups or on toothpicks?
  • Take your child shopping with you and have him pick some healthy foods. You may be surprised when he chooses a mango, kiwi, or bok choy because of how it looks, feels or sounds like.
  • Let you child cook with you. A child is more likely to try something she helped make.
  • Younger children like foods they can pick up themselves, so think “finger foods” like chunks or slices.
  • Talk about what the food looks like: color, shape, aroma, texture. You don’t need to focus on taste.
  • Talk about food’s benefits.
    • One mom told her son that Brussels sprouts were “super green balls of power” and they would make him big and strong. He loved them!
    • Remind them that milk helps their teeth grow strong.
  • If your child has trouble with a texture, remember that texture can be changed.
    • Don’t mash foods as smoothly. Leave some lumps.
    • Offer a crunchy cracker to dip into a “mushy” food like applesauce.
    • Serve foods in a different format, like apple slices instead of applesauce or a baked sweet potato instead of mashed.
  • Make sure your child takes a “no thank you” bite. It can take several times of trying (10 – 15 times!) a food before a child decides to like it.
  • The earlier you introduce a food, the more willing a child is to accept it.
  • Don’t offer your child an alternate or “special” meal. If he knows that’s an option, he’ll be more resistant to trying new things. But make sure there’s something you know she’ll like to eat on her plate.
  • Consider enrolling in the Little Munchers and Big Crunchers program offered through Beaumont Children’s Center for Children’s Rehabilitation.
  • If you have nutritional concerns, talk to your pediatrician.

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