Picking Your Battles with Picky Eaters

Picky eating is a common cause of concern for parents of young children. Generally speaking, we can think of food selectivity as an avoidance of or aversion to certain foods by children who are still meeting their caloric needs with other foods. Some children tend to refuse a certain category of foods, such as vegetables or meats, or a certain texture, such as chunky or chewy foods. Other children may eat one brand of macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets, but turn their nose up at other brands. A picky eater may also be particular about the way their foods look, avoiding foods that have unfamiliar seasonings or blemishes, or foods that are presented on different dishes. As mentioned above, children may avoid foods of a certain type, texture, or appearance. The good news is that our advice for addressing these issues at home is often same for all three: start with “easy wins” and make changes gradually


Instead of…

Try to…

Presenting a whole serving and telling your child to take one bite… Present no more than five bites of a new food when it is first introduced.
Choosing which new foods to present to your child… Offer two to three new items and ask your child which they would like to start with.
Offering your child’s most preferred foods/items during meal… Present both more preferred and less preferred items at meals, without the expectation of immediate success.
Expecting your child to like new foods or mealtime changes right away… Anticipate a negative reaction initially and be prepared to ignore it.
Presenting many new foods a single time and moving on if your child won’t try it… Present the same food many times so your child acclimates to its appearance and smell.
Starting with strong flavors or unique textures… Begin by targeting foods that have similar tastes and textures to foods your child already eats.
Reprimanding your child if they won’t try something new…i Provide enthusiastic praise when your child steps outside of their comfort zone.


For more support with your picky eater, contact us for a feeding evaluation at one of our San Francisco clinics. We would be happy to help!