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4 Tips for Picky Eaters

By Mrs. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension Service

Most children tend to go through picky eating phases. Sometimes, there’s more to picky eating than simply not liking a food. There are many things that could cause a child to be selective about what they eat, including unpleasant food textures, odors, and allergies.

Here are a few tips you can try to entice your picky eater:

Let them help. There are many age-appropriate ways to get kids in the kitchen. Allowing children to touch, prepare, and grow food is one of the best ways to get them to try new dishes. You may be pleasantly surprised with some of the great recipes they come up with!

Make food fun. Use fun shapes, sizes, and bright colors. Appealing to their eyes is a great way to get to their stomachs. Creativity in the kitchen can go a long way.

Keep things calm. Children are easily distracted. If mealtime is a struggle, limit distractions and allow your picky eater to focus more on the meal when it’s time to eat.

Examine your own eating habits. Children are observant. It may be challenging to get them to eat foods you don’t prepare because you don’t like the food yourself. So, remember, they are watching and can pick up similar food preferences and habits.

More tips:

  • For most toddlers, picky eating is normal.

  • It may take up to 8-10 attempts of offering a new food to a child before they try it. So, don’t give up.

  • Be sure to serve food in small portions. Large portions of food on a plate can be overwhelming for a child.

For more information and tips for coping with picky eaters and planning nutritionally balanced meals and snacks, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the MyPlate websites.

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