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Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters
Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

If you find yourself dealing with a picky eater on a regular basis, you’re no stranger to looking for new tips and tricks to keep mealtimes from turning into a showdown. You know by now the Clean Plate Club doesn’t work—neither do threats or guilt. You know the advice about not serving them a separate meal, that everyone at the table together is the way to go—yeah, in a perfect world where everyone’s schedule is the same! Tips for dealing with picky eaters abound wherever they’re serving up parenting advice, sure, but here are some additional ways to get your littles excited about food and cooking.

Tempt Them With Variety

Variety may be the spice of life, but for dealing with picky eaters it could mean the difference between a mealtime fight and dinner table fun. Not every has the time or resources to put out a veritable cornucopia of food at every (or most, or some) mealtime. By providing nutritious options at mealtime, young eaters are able to try new foods and create balanced meals. Some options to serve up:

  • An array of colorful veggies, raw or prepared—we eat with our eyes first, so dazzle with a rainbow of options.
  • Lean meats without aggressive seasonings or sauces (to start—you can get creative with more assertive flavors once your little is a fan of the primary protein).
  • Different kinds of dairy products in addition to common milk and American cheese.

Get Them In On the Fun

Picky Eaters

A favorite tip for dealing with picky eaters is to get them invested in the foods they seem to shy away from. Here are some easy ways to start:

  • Take them to the farmers market. Not only is it a fun morning out on a temperate weekend, kids are sure to get excited about all the new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes! Let them pick and choose what fresh produce looks yummy to them, then discuss what you might make with it while you’re on the way home. Little helpers will feel extra special if they get to hold the grocery bag*.
  • Have them join you in the kitchen. Washing produce, flouring pans, manning the measuring cups—even slicing and chopping for older kids—are all great ways for dealing with picky eaters by way of exposure. It’s a lot harder to turn down a tempting meal if you had all the excitement and pride of preparing it!

Don't Give Up!

Picky Eaters

We don’t always love—or even like—new foods the first time we try them, and we shouldn’t expect that out of picky eaters, either. A popular adage is that it takes 10 to 11 tries for a picky eater to learn to like something new, so keep trying with them! Different preparations of the ingredient in question may do the trick. Some folks even suggest not fielding questions like, “What’s for dinner”—it gives the picky eater you’re dealing with a chance to hear something they don’t like and catastrophize.

Let Snacks Do the Heavy Lifting

No, this doesn’t mean plying your picky eater with sweet or savory treats to quell grousing at mealtimes. Snack time is a great opportunity to introduce young palates to new flavors and to make healthy options fun and snackable. It also goes a long way toward setting boundaries; if junk isn’t on the menu for regular snack time, it’s likely it won’t be on the menu for a sit-down meal, either. A selection of fruits and veggies, nuts, cheeses, crackers—think a little one’s version of a charcuterie plate—is a chance for your picky eater to get used to new ingredients in a bite-sized way (and all of these things can be packed small and travel well for lunches and afternoons out).

*As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.*

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