Dealing With Picky Eaters

What do you do when your child just won’t eat anything other than chicken nuggies, or plain pasta? When should you be concerned about your child not eating enough of the right kinds of food? Should you just be happy that your kid’s eating?


If you ask yourself these questions every time you put food in front of your child’s face then this blog is for you! We’re talking picky eaters.


Everyone has their ick’s about food, that’s normal (I hate tomatoes, but love ketchup, pasta sauce and tomato soup; go figure). But when your child is refusing to eat anything you put in front of them other than a few select items that they have deemed worthy of eating, it can get concerning. Sometimes picky eating is a control thing; they want to be the ones to decide what they do and when, like when they decide that they want to dress themselves even though it takes at least twice as long. Other times it may just be a phase that they’re going through; they found something that they really, really like and they are going to eat it until they are sick of it.



How to work with a picky eater

First thing’s first, don’t force your child to eat what they don’t want, nothing good comes from making your child sit at the table until they have eaten everything on their plate. This can turn meal time into something negative, rather than something enjoyable and a time to socialize.


What you can do is try and expand their menu, encourage them to try new things and be a role model by practicing what you preach. If you want your child to eat Brussel sprouts, then they need to see you eating and enjoying eating them too.


Try not to make a second meal if your child is refusing to eat what you made; this only reinforces the notion that you will make them something special every meal time. Instead, you can offer your child an easy alternative: cereal, a granola bar, yogurt or fruit. Something that does not require you to dirty up more pots and pans. They aren’t getting the meal that they what they want, but they are eating something.


Another good option is to offer choices, or the illusion of choice. Give your child two different options of what to eat and let them choose. (Just don’t give them the option of their meal of choice.) This way they feel that they have some control over what they are eating.


If your child is old enough you can have them help cook with you. Bring them into the process, have them stir, pick out ingredients, and plate food for the family; they are likely to be more eager to try what they made.


When to get help

If your child is:

-Losing weight/difficulty gaining weight

-Gagging/vomiting at mealtimes



-Refusing to eat anything

-Extremely low energy/overly sleepy


Then it may be time to seek help from a doctor to get to the root cause of the picky eating. Tests may be done to rule out food intolerances, oral-motor issues, illnesses, GI issues, etc.


Typically, picky eating is just a phase and kids grow out of it. One day they love spinach, then next they hate it and how dare you put it on their plate! Then in a few weeks, they’re back to liking spinach again. It’s just all a part of that wonderful thing we call: Being a Parent