Healthy Children - September 2016

Healthy Tips for Picky Eaters

Do any of the statements below remind you of your child?

“Ebony will only eat peanut butter sandwiches!”
“Michael won’t eat anything green, just because of the color.”
“Bananas used to be Matt’s favorite food, now he won’t even touch them!”

Your child may eat only a certain type of food or refuse foods based on a certain color or texture. They may also play at the table and may not want to eat. Don’t worry if your child is a picky eater. Picky eating behavior is common for many children from the age of 2 to 5 years. As long as your child has plenty of energy and is growing, he or she is most likely eating enough to be healthy. If you have concerns about your child’s growth or eating behavior, talk to your child’s doctor.

How to cope with picky eating

Your child’s picky eating is temporary. If you don’t make it, it will usually end before school age. Try the following tips to help you deal with your child’s picky eating behavior in a positive way.

Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them pick out fruits and veggies at the store.

Have your child help you prepare meals. Children learn about food and get excited about tasting food when they help make meals. Let them add ingredients, scrub veggies, or help stir food.

Offer choices. Rather than asking, “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” ask “Which would you like for dinner, broccoli or cauliflower?”
Enjoy each other while eating family meals together. Talk about fun and happy things. If meals are times for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes toward food.

Offer the same foods for the whole family. Don’t be a “short-order cook,” making a different meal for your child. Your child will be okay even if he or she does not eat a meal now and then.

U.S. Department of Agriculture