WIC caregivers often discuss concern for their children’s “picky eating” – here are some strategies WIC recommends to try with your picky eater:
- Share a meal together as a family with no distractions. Turn off all screens (T.V, cell phones, tablets) and serve one meal for the whole family. If your child does not eat what was served, don’t rush to make another meal – this can start a bad habit and may encourage picky eating.
- Avoid fussing over food. If your child refuses to eat, don’t get angry. It is healthy for children to use hunger as their guide. Pressuring children to eat or punishing them if they do not eat may encourage them to dislike foods that they may otherwise enjoy. In addition, it can create a power struggle between you and your child.
- Let your child be your “sous-chef”. Involving children in the planning and cooking of meals helps them to get interested in new foods. Let them pick out their favorite fruit or vegetable during grocery visits, stir ingredients in the kitchen, or pick out recipes to try. If they help prepare the meal or snack, they are more likely to eat it!
- Create a good pair. The first time you give your child a new food, serve it with one of their favorite foods. Don’t be afraid to mix flavors and textures! Broccoli and cheese make a great combination for kids. Toddlers and younger preschoolers love to dip foods in sauces or dips, so consider offering new foods with a favorite sauce or dip (like hummus or cheese sauce).
- Keep trying new foods. It may take up to 10 times for a child to develop taste for a new food, so include different foods in meals to help their taste buds adjust to new tastes, textures, and smells.
- Food can be fun. Children may be more open to trying foods when they are prepared in fun and creative ways. Arrange foods in different shapes, patterns and colors. Keep it fun!
Developed with assistance from Laurie Bell, Southern University Dietetic Intern, Fall of 2020.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ 10 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Picky-Eaters.aspx was also used as a guide when creating these tips.