5 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters: Research Brief

Picky Eaters

Several years back, a popular parenting magazine reached out to get my thoughts on kids who are picky eaters. I happily answered their questions...and that was that. It just occurred to me that this issue might resonate with many of you, so I wanted to share what some of the research says about this hot topic. 

The Journal of Pediatric Health Care focused on this very thing in an article a few years back (1). There was a cool reference shared in that article, that I believe will be helpful for many for whom the daily food battle is real. While the focus of this article was on preschoolers (catch 'em while they're young)...these concepts can apply to older kids as well! So, here we go!

The following is adapted from http://www.nutritionexplorations.org :

Tips for parents of picky preschoolers

Many parents find that their toddlers and preschoolers are picky eaters. They do not like to try new foods and will only eat certain favorite foods. Many parents offer new foods only one to five times before deciding that their child doesn't like it and eliminating the food from the child's meals. However, research shows that a child needs to be exposed to a new food eight to fifteen times before they will accept it, turning a new food into a familiar, acceptable food. Here are some tips for getting your picky eater to try new foods.

  • Offer small portions of new foods along with your child's favorite foods. Do not force your child to eat all of the new food, but require that they take a small taste. Remember, it may take up to fifteen exposures for your child to accept the new food.
  • Make food fun! Be creative with your food. Presenting new foods in a different manner will create interest from your child. Use fruit to make silly faces on pancakes. Use different vegetables and spreads to create food animals, such as a cauliflower sheep and ants on a log (see recipes below).
  • • Encourage your child to use different senses to explore their food. Teach your child different ways of exploring and describing food, such as texture, color, and shape. Have your child taste different foods and guess whether they will be noisy or quiet, hard or soft.
  • • Keep a tasting chart. Keep a tasting chart for your child. Each time your child tastes a new food, reward them by letting them place a sticker or stamp on the chart. After they have achieved a set number of stickers or stamps, reward your child with a favorite activity.
  • • Be a good role model. Present new foods to your child in a neutral or positive manner. If you express dislike for a food, your child will be less willing to try it.

Noisy Sheep, Quiet Sheep
  • One piece cauliflower
  • Raisins
  • Half of a piece of string cheese cut into 4 equal pieces or 4 baby carrots
  • Cheese spread, cream cheese, or peanut butter
  • Put the cauliflower on your plate.
  • Put 4 pieces of string cheese or baby carrots on your plate.
  • Cover the bottom of the cauliflower with cheese spread, cream cheese, or peanut butter.
  • Attach the 4 pieces of cheese or baby carrots to the cauliflower to make legs.
  • Dip 2 raisins in the cheese spread, cream cheese, or peanut butter and attach to make eyes.
  • Dip 1 raisin in the cheese spread, cream cheese, or peanut butter and attach it to make a nose.

Ants on a Log With Antennas
  • Celery sticks (Vegetable group)
  • Peanut butter (Meat group)
  • Raisins (Fruit group)
  • Pretzel sticks (Grain group)
  • 5Low-fat milk (Milk group)
  • 1Spread peanut butter on celery stick
  • 2Put 5 raisins on the peanut butter
  • 3Put 2 pretzel sticks sticking up in the front of the celery stick to look like antennas
  • 4Eat and enjoy with a nice glass of low-fat milk

More Help 

Need a little more help? I'll be back soon with some of my favorite ways to encourage healthy eating...and more resources!

In the meantime, know that you can access instant help with the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle which is available for a short time! This bundle is HUGE...and also includes an early bird bonus! Which I'm totally excited about (see the BONUS items a bit further down).

This bundle is all about helping your family live their best, most healthy life...and there are several resources in it to help with your kids. I love the one on lunches...as well as cooking for kids! Click through to see EVERYTHING that comes in this bundle! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Here's just a small example of what's included in the bundle:

In total you're going to get:

Hop on over HERE to get all the details and see how this bundle can help YOU!

Best of all...there's a 30 day guarantee! If you grab the bundle and find it's not for you...request your money back...and call it a day! 

Couldn't be easier!

Have a fabulous day!


(1) Helping preschoolers become healthy eaters

Carrie, Fuller et al.

Journal of Pediatric Health Care , Volume 19 , Issue 3 , 178 - 182

Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is  the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. She is the creator of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there! Affiliate links may be used in this post. Please see our full disclaimer, located at the top of our page for more information.


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