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How to feed a picky eater


We talk a lot about picky eaters on this blog, so I thought that today, instead of discussing the various ways in which my big guy can be picky (once in a while, Markus rejects something, but I’d be hard-pressed to describe him, ever, as picky), I’d share some tips on helping deal with said picky ones.


This guide from Parenting starts off pointing out a statistic that’s reassuring: Almost 40 percent of children younger than 6 are picky eaters.

In other words, it’s totally normal.

At this age, kids’ instinctual response to something new is suspicion and caution, and they may be asserting their independence by refusing your offerings. But picky eating won’t last forever — most kids grow out of it by age 8 or 9.

In fact, Rafael already has begun to be more adventurous.

He totally digs a variation of eggplant parm that my mother-in-law makes — but only if I cut the skin off first. And, yes, I think it most likely is a matter of control. But he’ll all but lick the plate clean if there’s no skin on the eggplant, so it’s a small price to pay.

The main suggestions:

Be patient. A typical toddler needs multiple exposures to a new food before he’ll risk tasting it – and 10 to 20 tastes before he actually likes it.

Cut back on portions. A toddler’s stomach is the size of his fist, and he’s growing only one-tenth as much as he did as a baby, so he likely needs less food than you think.

Involve your child. He’ll be more interested in eating the final product. Ask, “Should we have green beans or broccoli?” But don’t offer too many options – he might feel confused.

Get creative. Try presenting foods in new and fun ways.

In my experience:

• Patience is key. I never push. Any time he rejects a food, I let it be. I try a couple times, then next time we have it, I try again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

• I never start out with a huge portion. I start with a small amount. If he likes it, he gets more. My guy’s a skinny minny, so I never worry about him eating too much. He could use a little fat on his bones, frankly.

• I try not to involve Rafael too much in food decisions, honestly. He’ll change his mind every three seconds. We prefer to tell him what he’s going to eat rather than ask. Sometimes I’ll give him two choices, and I let him change his mind once, maybe twice. Never ever more than twice.

• Never done anything incredibly creative with his food. Honestly, I don’t want him to get too reliant on a “creative” presentation. Give Rafael an inch, he’ll take a mile.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008 at 8:11 am by Amy Vernon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: how-to, picky eater