At our house it’s beans. black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, re-fried beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans–you get the idea. I can’t say that I blame him. I didn’t care for beans when I was his age either. But they are so good for you! So I keep making them anyway.
But I have to admit, I don’t care for brussel sprouts. They are never at our dinner table, because even though I’ve tried, I just can’t like them. So where is that balance between our individual tastes and “You’ll eat it because it’s good for you!”?
We went to our Power of Moms mothering community, and these are just some of the great ideas that were shared on how you can help your picky eater get the nutrients they need and conquer those pickies.
Trying New Foods
“We do ‘no thank you bites’ in our house. When they are little I find something that looks gross but tastes good, like banana French toast. It didn’t look pretty but tasted super yummy and sweet. Then we talk about a ‘no thank you bite.’ They are not forced to eat but they are only offered that until they try one bite.” –Ashley Logsdon
“We often refer playfully to Dr. Suess’ book, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ if someone is refusing to try something new. I remind them that we sometimes don’t think we will like something, but we might be surprised.” –Rachel Johnston
“I like to give her just a little bit of three or four things on a divided plate at meal time so she can try different things. Trying things with her seems to help too.” –@melrrich
“Letting the kids dip in ranch, ketchup, hummus, cool whip, whatever. Dip takes the edge off a scary new food. Even if they are just licking off the dip, it’s a step. Next, cutting into really small pieces seems to help. As a last resort, spoon feed the first bite. I’m always amazed how my kids are more willing to eat something if I bring the spoon to their mouth. Especially if I make a sound to go along with it!“ –Mary Karlee Mullen
“Anytime my children say they don’t like what I’ve made I tell them, ‘You don’t have to eat it, but this is what we are having.’ I make sure every meal includes something safe that I know they like. Then, if they don’t eat and are hungry later, I offer them their plates. It’s amazing how, with the freedom to [choose], they are more willing to try it.” –Tikla Fife
Puh-lease Eat It
“While I can’t force my kids to eat, I can control what I buy and keep in the house….I do try and prepare the food separated, so noodles separate from sauce. My kids just eat better that way.” –Michelle
“When she was a toddler and couldn’t be bothered to eat because she was always so busy playing/running around, I would feed her dinner in her bath. She loved being in the water and didn’t mind being in there awhile, and I knew she would sit still and finish her food.” –Sarah Badat Richardson
“My two-year-old doesn’t love to eat dinner, but he does love to snitch all the ingredients when I’m chopping them up.” –Jenny
“’Do you want a little or a lot?’ is a phrase we use often!” –Sara Walkenhorst
“’Please! Whatever you do, don’t eat your green beans! It will make me scream!’ Then if they take a bite we scream. It is probably a bit much, but it gets our kids to try things they wouldn’t otherwise.” –@marilysmith
“Grow a garden. My (formerly picky) boys will eat anything they grew. I would also say involve them in meal prep. Pride in their work often gets them to eat new things.” – Hannelene Beillard
“I have found it helpful to teach my kids how the body uses food and the benefits of each food. We talk a lot about vitamins and minerals and which vitamins do what. They get excited about the fact that carrots can make their eyes see better and foods with vitamin C help their bodies fight sickness–super powers, right?” –Rachel Johnston
“We’ve put spinach in smoothies…casseroles are an easy way to disguise things, especially if the ingredients are blended some and therefore can’t be recognized.” –Tricia Prues
“I make healthy banana muffins and green smoothies (or any smoothies).” –Paige Wilson
“I make green smoothies too, but I don’t ‘hide’ foods at all. They know all about what’s in there and why we call it hulk juice.” –Rachel Johnston
- “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family,” by Ellyn Satter. “I am a registered dietitian and I love, love, love the book ‘Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family,’ by Ellyn Satter, who is an RD and feeding therapist. I have used Ellyn’s strategies (not perfectly I might add) and they have helped so much for one of my kids who is picky.” –Dana Strohmaier
- “French Kids Eat Everything,” by Karen Le Billion. “The book, ‘French Kids Eat Everything,’ was very helpful.” –Sarah Badat Richardson
- “Ending the Food Fight,” by David Ludwig. “Reading this book right now and I LOVE it!” –Natalie Hixson
- “Mindful Parenting” by Kirsten Race. “The insights aren’t food ideas but are centered on creating the space for family dinner (because we read all over how important dinner is!).” –Sara Walkenhorst
- “My favorite instagram account on nutrient dense foods is @raisinggenerationnourished. She has a cookbook as well that is beautiful and inspiring yet practical!” –Morgendee Flannery
- “I absolutely love Renée Koley @raisinggenerationnourished and her cookbook. It should be in every home. I also share on my page @treasures_of_knowledge89 healthy food ideas. Food really is our first medicine.” –Jonelle Hughes
- And some great Power of Moms articles on this topic:
Something to Consider–
“Often picky eaters have sensory problems that need to be addressed. It isn’t always about kids being stubborn and making them try new things.” –Cheryl Cardall
If you are concerned about pickiness being an issue for your child’s health, be sure to speak to your pediatrician.
QUESTION: What has worked for YOUR picky eater?
CHALLENGE: Try one of these new techniques the next time your picky eater starts to fuss.
Edited by Elsje Denison and Sarah Monson.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Anna Jenkins.