Picky Eating

Featured in Infants & Toddlers

Picky Eating

Picky eating can be a common issue among infants and toddlers. Many parents have a bit more patience with infants who are picky eaters as they are just learning to eat solids and try new foods. Toddlers on the other hand, can be very frustrating – they may love a food one day and then refuse to eat it for days after.

Methods of Discipline

There are different methods of dealing with picky eaters, depending on what the preferred parenting style. Some parents are fine with a toddler not trying a food and leaving it on their plate, other parents force their child to eat the food placed in front of them. There are some good guidelines to consider when trying to deal with your picky eater toddler.

1. A happy medium can be that the child must at least try the food once – if they do not like it, then they may leave it on their plate. Some parents have tried the “train into the tunnel” routine, the withholding of dessert and chased toddlers around, trying to get spoonfuls into their mouths.

2. Regardless of our parenting style, how we deal with our toddler’s eating habits plus how we approach our own eating habits, all impact what your toddler will eat. Recognize your eating habits.


3. Set a good example for your child. Eat well in front of your children to help them develop healthy attitudes towards eating. Show your child that you eat a balanced diet, full of healthy fruit and vegetables and proper portion sizes.

4. Watch how much pressure you are applying to your toddler. Often when parents exert pressure on their child, their child becomes overwhelmed and can make eating food a control issue. By parents applying pressure to their toddlers, they are likely going to avoid those foods when they get the chance, even if they eat the food at the time. Pressure often becomes more about control and autonomy, instead of enjoying healthy food.

5. Bribes are often a tactic that parents succumb to but beware of making bribes. Bribes are considered another form of parental pressure and will add to the tension at mealtime. If parents bribe a child with dessert then the focus is on dessert (what is worth eating) rather than healthy eating.

Helping Your Child Cope

There are some tips that can help parents deal with their picky eaters. First off, be sure you are serving your child age-appropriate food servings. The portions for toddlers should be about one-fourth of that of adult portions. A plateful of food being placed in front of a toddler can create fussiness and apprehensiveness. Instead, by decreasing the portion sizes, it is not as overwhelming for your toddler as well as providing opportunities to ask for a second helping of the food you have served – giving your toddler some control over his or her eating.

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Be sure to offer some unfamiliar and new foods to your toddler but in much smaller portions. Don’t force your toddler to eat all the portions but instead to try the new food.  Also, when introducing a new food, be sure to include a favorite food of your toddler. Pair foods that your child dislikes with some that he or she likes.

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