Help! My Child Is A Picky Eater!

Tips for Parents of Picky Eater

Are you tired of mealtime battles with your picky eater? In this brief but informative article, an experienced pediatrician shares expert tips and advice to help parents of young children navigate the challenges of picky eating. Say goodbye to stress and frustration at the dinner table, and hello to happy, healthy eaters!

Picky eating can be an incredibly stressful issue for parents, but there are strategies and additional resources to help increase acceptance of new foods and reduce picky eating.

  1. Lead by Example: Children often mimic their parents’ behaviors, including their eating habits. Make sure to model healthy eating behaviors by including a variety of nutritious foods in your own diet. Sitting down together as a family for meals can also encourage positive eating habits.
  2. Offer a Variety of Foods: Introduce a wide range of foods to your child, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Encourage them to try new foods by presenting them in different ways, such as raw, cooked, or mixed into familiar dishes.
  3. Create a Positive Eating Environment: Make mealtime enjoyable by creating a relaxed atmosphere free from distractions such as TV or electronic devices. Avoid pressuring your child to eat or using food as a reward or punishment.  
  4. Involve Your Child in Meal Preparation: Allow your child to participate in meal planning and preparation. This can increase their interest in trying new foods and give them a sense of ownership over their meals.
  5. Be Patient and Persistent: It may take several exposures to a new food (20 or more!) before your child is willing to try it. Be patient and continue offering a variety of foods, even if your child initially refuses them.
  6. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that picky eating is a normal phase of development for many children. Avoid making mealtimes a battleground and trust that your child will eventually develop a more varied palate.

Here are a few great websites for more details and perspectives:

Ellyn Satter Institute – The Ellyn Satter Institute offers valuable resources and insights into the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, a framework that helps parents establish healthy feeding dynamics with their children. – This website, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, offers a wealth of information on nutrition for children of all ages.

In terms of helpful books, these are some of the best:

 How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter: This book emphasizes a positive feeding relationship and teaches parents how to handle picky eating without pressure or coercion.

Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter: Another excellent book by Satter, it provides guidance on creating a healthy feeding environment and dealing with picky eating behaviors.

Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen: This book offers a comprehensive approach to feeding children of all ages, including practical tips for dealing with picky eating.

Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders by Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin: Specifically focused on extreme picky eating, this book provides strategies and support for parents dealing with challenging feeding issues.

Food Chaining: The Proven 6-Step Plan to Stop Picky Eating, Solve Feeding Problems, and Expand Your Child’s Diet by Cheri Fraker, Laura Walbert, and Mark Fishbein: Food chaining is a systematic approach to expanding a picky eater’s diet by gradually introducing new foods based on their preferences.

Every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another.  

If picky eating is significantly impacting your child’s growth and development, or if you have concerns about their nutritional intake, talk with your pediatrician.  There are additional resources like nutritionists and feeding specialists to work with you one-on-one (often available in person and via telemedicine).  

Read Also: What Are The Benefits Of Sharing A Family Dinner?

Sky Pittson, MD, April, 2024

Take the first step towards improving your child’s health with pediatric integrative medicine. Call The Village Doctor at (650) 851-4747 or Contact us to learn more about the practice.