Picky eaters come in all shapes and sizes—maybe yours prefers milk over food, wants shredded cheese on just about everything, or hopes to subsist on Ritz crackers alone. Whether your toddler has been persnickety about veggies from her first taste of pureed peas, or only just recently took up his peanut butter obsession, it can be plain frustrating to have a picky eater in the high chair. Whatever your child's stubborn food habits may be, you're in good company. Hundreds of moms have joined our Moms of Picky Eaters community, and many more have weighed in on other picky food conversations. Here we're gathering advice from your fellow moms on mealtime tactics to tempt picky eaters.
- Lead by example. "Always eat together" advises Edwina F. Having just a tiny taste of your child's food can prompt them to copy you. Show them it's yummy, too, following up your bites with smiles and a nice, long "mmmmm." Similarly, if you have older children, having them try the food may convince your toddler to eat like the big kids.
- Make new foods fun. Making mealtime entertaining can distract children from the strangeness of new foods. "Different fruits and veggies that are bright and fun make the meal more fun to eat!" suggests Tiffany L., while Tevah recommends "making the food into funny faces or animals."
- Mix in new foods with trusted favorites. Try offering familiar and new foods at the same meal, without drawing the child's attention to new menu items. Jeni W. tried this technique to see if her son would try the foods on his own. The result? Success!
- Offer praise for trying new foods. Tanya K. praised her children for trying new foods, "even if it was only two spoonfuls." Positive reactions can encourage your toddler to keep trying new foods, even if only a little bit at a time.
- Rephrase questions into statements. "Of course if you give her a choice she's going to say 'no.'" reasons Gwen C. Instead, she suggests, "rephrase from 'Can you try the banana?' to 'Eat your banana too please.'"
- Use familiar names for new foods. Trick your toddler into trying new foods by using familiar names. "If you know she likes 'chicken,' call pork chops 'chicken,'" Jannell F. recommended.
- Let your child help cook. If your child is old enough to do simple prep tasks (like breaking up vegetables or stirring batter) let them help. As Jennifer K. explained, if you "find little things she can help with, it will add some time to your prep time but she will be proud of her helping and much more likely to eat what she has made herself."
- Worried about nutrition? Sneak the veggies in! Moms like Bridget W. offered all kinds of recipe ideas to sneak nutrients into meals for picky eaters: "I add vegetables to everything! My daughter can't even tell. I put cauliflower in chicken alfredo. Corn in spaghetti...homemade meatballs with onions, corn, green pepper, and spinach."
- Don't force food, but don't offer alternatives either. "If they know they will get something else made, then they will never learn to try things" says Amy M. "You have to set an example and show them they sometimes don't have an alternative to dinner." In short, if you offer only one food, your child will eat it if he gets hungry enough.
Looking for more advice on picky eaters? Got a great tip we missed?
Picky eaters aren't the only ones with selective tastes—with thousands of different communities, Circle of Moms is designed to satisfy the tastes of all kinds of moms. From conversations about toddlers to recipe swaps, Circle of Moms is a friendly place to ask other real moms questions and share your own tips!