Meal Time Tips for Picky Eaters
Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
Bringing peace while breaking bread with your little one.
Feeding kids can be a challenging feat, especially when you have a picky eater on your hands. A great place to start is to follow Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in feeding where you, the parent, take leadership in what food is served, as well as when and where it is served. Your child decides how much and whether to eat what is provided. Take pressure off your child by setting expectations but allowing choices.
- Stick to a meal and snack schedule with a designated eating area. Avoid distractions at the meal table and model appropriate dinnertime behavior.
- Serve at least one food you know your child likes at each meal. Serve a little of everything from the meal on their plate, but do not pressure them to eat it. Even if they do not try it, repeated exposure to foods can help them feel more comfortable trying it later on.
- If you are having a meal that has several things mixed together, serve their meal “deconstructed” with the parts separated out.
- Give children choices like “would you like carrots or peas?” instead of just asking if they want a certain food.
- Avoid bribing with dessert or using sweets as a reward. This places these foods on a pedestal and teaches them that sweet foods are a real treat and all other foods are a chore. Instead serve a small portion of dessert at the meal with no comment. Once that small portion is finished that is all they get and will most likely eat more of the rest of the meal.
- Limit mealtime stress by sitting together, enjoying your own food and engaging in positive conversation on topics other than the food.