8 Tips For Dealing With A Picky Eater

8 Tips For Dealing With A Picky Eater | Baby Chick

By Jessica Tomes

Wife, mommy to three precious little girls, currently pregnant with baby a boy, and owner of The Plaid Pony!

View All Posts

Jessica Tomes is a wife and mommy to three precious (but rambunctious) little girls. She is currently pregnant with baby number four, and can’t wait to meet HIM this September! She has a degree in broadcast journalism from Texas Christian University. She owns The Plaid Pony, an upscale online boutique featuring curated favorites for infants through tweens — and is so excited to launch The Plaid Pony Home this Fall! She is passionate about writing and marketing impeccably designed clothing and furniture, and this wonderfully beautiful mess we call motherhood. She happily resides in Houston, Texas — eating all the Tex Mex she can get her hands on!

“From a brain (developmental) standpoint, everything revolves around nutrition. Feeding milestones precede any other milestones. Increased nutrition means an increased IQ. If a baby struggles to suckle, this affects her entire development. If you want to have a healthy baby, a healthy family — you’ll have healthy things like blueberries around for snacking. If mom and dad are healthy, baby will be less picky,” says Speech Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist Dawn Winkelman, M.S. , CCC-SLP.

Picky eaters. We all know one (or ten). Don’t we, moms? My toddler only wants to eat chicken nuggets, when she wants to eat at all — and my preschooler pretends she is “sick” when she doesn’t like what I’ve made for dinner. They both are making me crazy. I’ll admit, I am kind of terrified to start feeding baby number three real (solid) food. I don’t know if I can take that kind of rejection. I am in a fragile, delicate place here. You feel me?

So here’s my question, and my daily frustration. How the hell are we supposed to deal with our picky eaters?

1. Experts say we should introduce healthy foods from the beginning.

Stick to your guns. Fruits and veggies (of the deepest and darkest varieties) are our friends. Healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle start now. Encourage your littles to “eat their colors”. Brightly colored foods offer more nutrients in a greater variety.

Feeding Specialist Dawn Winkelman says, “if you want to have a healthy baby, a healthy family — you’ll have healthy snacks like blueberries around for snacking. If mom and dad are healthy, baby will be less picky. Encourage your children to eat whole foods. Modeling is so important. Mom and Dad don’t eat pouches, so why should baby?”

2. Recruit your child’s help.

Include your littles in the prep work. If they help to make it, they are more inclined to eat it. Include them in the grocery buying process. Give them ownership; create buy-in. We love the Learning Tower from Little Partners for this exact reason. It’s the only step stool on the market designed specifically to meet the needs of both young toddlers and big kids alike. My toddler loves to “do everything herself.” With the Learning Tower, she actually can help in the kitchen. And it even transforms into an ice cream stand when we’re done with dinner! How cute, right?!

Baby Chick, Little Partners, Learning Tower, picky eaters

Baby Chick, Little Partners, Learning Tower, picky eaters

Baby Chick, Little Partners, Learning Tower, picky eaters

Baby Chick, Little Partners, Learning Tower, picky eaters

3. Don’t buy junk food.

Out of sight, out of mind. If it isn’t in the house, it isn’t a “real” option. Save the junk and sweets for treats and special occasions — in moderation, of course. Have healthy finger foods ready and available, and try to keep snacks to a schedule. After all, if they’re full on snacks — even healthy snacks — they probably won’t be hungry for their regularly scheduled meals. Here’s to outsmart our toddlers!

4. Don’t force your child to “clean her plate.”

Kids know when they are full. You should NEVER force your child to overeat. We like to employ the “one bite rule”: you must try at least one decent sized bite — if you honestly can’t stand the taste of said dish, then fine. But you’re going to try a bite, and you’re going to be polite about it. This is especially important in public situations — no one likes the rude kid that won’t eat anything. Trust me. I don’t want that kid at my house…

5. Serve small portions. Give them the opportunity to ask for more.

6. Be patient when introducing new foods, and make it fun!

Feeding specialist Dawn Winkelman says picky eaters don’t like their foods to touch. They don’t want the flavors (of their purees) to mix. She says the compartments of the EZPZ Happy Mat help with this. Food won’t encroach, and the Happy Mat really encourages littles to work on their gross motor skills — scooping and pulling and pinching, “setting kids up for self-feeding success.”

Baby Chick, EZPZ, Happy Mat, picky eaters

Baby Chick, EZPZ, Happy Mat, picky eaters

Baby Chick, EZPZ, Happy Mat, picky eaters

Baby Chick, EZPZ, Happy Mat, picky eaters

With the EZPZ book Making Meal Time EZPZyou can create adorable food art, without the dreaded headache of a bento box. (Gag me. I don’t have time for that Pinterest shi*.) Dawn says the Happy Mat encourages really great language skills — “your Happy Mat is ready” instead of “breakfast is ready.” She says the Happy Mat helps to improve attentiveness and excitement at mealtime, because it allows for interaction — which in turn creates a positive discussion about food. The Happy Mat is your palette for your food art creations. We are obsessed with our Happy Mats. My daughters love to eat their happy faces 😉

5 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Entertained on a Rainy Day

Baby Chick, EZPZ, picky eaters

Baby Chick, EZPZ, picky eaters

Baby Chick, EZPZ, picky eaters
Want to give EZPZ a try with your own picky eaters? Use promo code “babychick” for 20% off your next EZPZ order! Let’s make mealtime fun again! And don’t forget to tell us what you think!

7. Turn off the television!

Eat dinner as a family. Talk about the foods that you are eating. Talk about your day. Talk about your plans for the weekend. Just keep the distracting television turned off — this should help to make meal time more meaningful!

8. Remember: You are not a short order cook!

So don’t allow yourself to be treated like one. My children are slowly (and painfully) learning that mom isn’t going to make them 10 dinners. They either eat what I serve them, or they go to bed “hungry.” Eventually, they are going to learn to eat what mom makes. And when all else fails, I just hide fruits and veggies in a green smoothie! Hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

How did you deal with your picky eater? Did you drink all the wine? Did you just give in and feed your child chocolate for breakfast? We’d love to hear! Feel free to share in the comment section below!


Also on Baby Chick

2 thoughts on “8 Tips For Dealing With A Picky Eater

  1. Five should either replace four or go hand in hand.

    These days people overeat because they were given portions too big. Smaller portions are best

  2. Great article. Thanks for your food for thought. ?
    When we had our first child, my husband and I were determined to help him become a better eater than we are. Not that we don’t eat well but just that we want even better for our kids. So we put everything in front of him and we’re careful not to mold his eating habits based on what we liked or didn’t like. We put salmon, beets, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, and all sorts of healthy food in front of him. Exposure is everything, we thought. Our child started to love these things, even if we didn’t. He wasn’t picky at all and even when shopping at the grocery store, I would have to hide the broccoli because he would hunt it down and eat it raw…right out of the bag. Lol. He did a few times decide he didn’t want to eat some foods. Then I would just stick them in the blender and make Popsicles out of real fruit and veggies. My child will be turning four and everyone tells us how great he eats or comments on his healthy lunches. He refuses to eat hamburgers or chicken nuggets. This I’ll take. I have to say I’m really proud of the work we put in to create this healthy lifestyle habit for my son. This week I just started solids for my baby girl and I’m hoping we’ll have some success with her on healthy eating as well. Great article. I appreciated the points on making eating fun, not requiring kids to clear their plate, keeping junk food out of the house, and serving them one meal without the option of being picky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *