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The Do’s and Dont's of Parenting a Picky Eater

by VTech Mom

If you have ever fed a child before, you probably know that children are notoriously picky when it comes to the food on their plates.
Some have a constant dinner menu of macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and plain cheese pizza, completely rejecting anything with protein, fiber, or vitamins… essentially, anything nutritious! Whether a child’s pickiness stems from genetics or is his way of asserting control, we can attempt to break the habit before it becomes an unhealthy lifestyle!

Do:

…lead by example. Eat a range of healthy foods and avoid showing disinterest when trying new things. Your child is likely to imitate you in a variety of ways and your eating habits is definitely one of them.

…cook together! Ask your child to help with measuring, pouring or stirring. Preparing parts of the meal helps your child become comfortable with the idea of eating it.

…gradually build progress. It’s safe to say that your child won’t go from ‘junk’ food to ‘healthy’ food overnight. Recognize what your child likes and expand upon it by pairing favorite foods with new foods. If she prefers buttered noodles, try making it that way but adding a few noodles with red sauce on the side. If he loves peanut butter, start by serving it on crackers or toast, eventually spreading it on thin apple slices.

Don’t:

…force feed. It’s important to note that when a baby pushes away the spoon or turns his head away, he could simply be full, distracted or not feeling well. Ignoring these signs and force feeding could result in your little one associating eating with tension and discomfort.

…ask your child what she wants. No one wants to be a short-order cook for their family’s mealtime. Instead of preparing one meal for your family and a special meal for your child, make sure that there is something he knows and likes on the plate, as well as something new for him to try!

…make deals. Often times, parents try bargaining with their child: “Just two more bites!” or “If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert!” This method may work short-term, but eventually, the child will learn to make deals and ask for rewards for doing other things, like brushing teeth or putting toys away.


Our advice is given as suggestions only. If you’re concerned that your child’s eating habits are preventing your child from growth and developing, we recommend that you consult your child’s healthcare provider.