Why are some kids picky eaters?

Kids Eat Smart Picky Eater

Many children are picky eaters, which can be frustrating when trying to introduce new foods.

As a child, Mom and Dad wouldn’t let me or my brothers and sister get up from the table until we had finished off our vegetables – and I tell you, sometimes we were so stubborn, we were there for an hour!

It wasn’t until my teens that I discovered that I actually liked them – and of course now I enjoy them each day as a part of a balanced diet.

Not wanting to try new foods is actually quite normal in children. They do not always like new tastes or textures but there are ways to encourage children to try new foods.

The key is to focus on creativity, to not getting frustrated and to keep trying.

“Dos” for Dealing with Picky Eaters

  • Be a role model. Try new foods with the kids.
  • Be patient. If the kids refuse a food, try again later. It may take 10-15 times before they try it
  • Combine new foods with old favourites like adding a new vegetable to a spaghetti sauce.
  • Make it fun. Try cutting food into fun shapes or presenting it in the shape of a happy face. Even teaching the kids something interesting about the food can help them warm up to new foods faster.
  • Involve the kids. Bring the kids grocery shopping while you select new foods or ask for their help as you prepare the meal or snack. (See our related post: Kids can make nutritious food too!)

“Don’ts” for Dealing with Picky Eaters

  • Never force a child to eat a new food
  • Don’t make it a big deal if a child will not eat a particular food
  • Never use food as a reward. Don’t use dessert as a reward for eating a vegetable
  • Don’t withhold other foods until new foods are eaten
  • Don’t transfer your food dislikes to the kids. Just because you don’t like a specific food doesn’t meant that the kids won’t like it.
  • As every child matures they tend to become less picky about food, but everyone has their own tastes. Don’t expect your children to like every food they try.

What strategies work for picky eaters in YOUR family? We’d love to hear about them – please comment below, post to our Facebook and/or Google+ page, or email me directly at kharris@kidseatsmart.ca.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

2 replies
  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    What a great post! I never really thought about about being a role model in terms of also trying new foods with your kids! It will certainly make them more comfortable with trying it and this could transpire into other life lessons as they get older.

    Look forward to the next post.

  2. My3Monsters
    My3Monsters says:

    My 4 year old will eat anything on the table. I am doing everything on this list and my 2 year old still will not eat vegetables or most protein (unless I put meat in a pita). It’s hard to even get upset with him because he will always at least try a bite, but ends up chewing and spitting it out. Any suggestions?


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