Do you ever feel like your child could cheerfully live on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese? Ever worry if your child will go to a friend’s house or to school and not eat anything they serve? Or wonder if your child is getting enough nutrition from their food?
We get these questions a lot at TPK. Families often ask us how they can get their kids to eat a wider variety of foods, or tell us that their child is very picky and might or might not eat the snacks we offer. It’s okay! Lots of kids are picky. This resource was written by our friends at FCPS and will tell you a little bit about what to do if you have a picky eater at home.
5 things to know or do
- Children don’t need as much food as we might think. Children’s growth slows down during their preschool years after they experience a rapid growth spurt during their first year of life. It is normal for their appetite and need for calories to slow down as well.
- Don’t force it. Forcing a child to finish their food or try a new food will usually make them less likely to eat it and can cause them to associate meal time with negative feelings. These negative feelings can make them less sensitive to internal cues of hunger and fullness.
- Offer new foods often. A child usually needs to be exposed to a new food 10-15 times before trying it.
- Some children need to feel in control at meal time. Let children choose where each food is placed on their plate or let them serve themselves. A little bit of independence at meal time might help them feel more in control and increase their chances of trying new or different foods.
- Eat together as a family. Young children who sit down and eat meals with their families are more likely to develop healthy eating habits.
- Pickysaurus Mac by Sandra Miller Linhart. Pickysaurus Mac is not your typical dinosaur. Mealtimes pose a special problem for our picky little friend. Sometimes foods smell too gross to eat, they taste different than they look and their textures feel like garbage in his mouth. His friends tell him to eat right to stay healthy, but some things you just can’t fix with words. Will Pickysaurus Mac ever find something he likes? When he finds he likes it, will it be the best food for him? Will he find it in time?
- Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds. What happens at Nuthatcher Farm when the chickens get tired of the same old chicken feed? The rooster hatches a plan! With a pinch of genius, a dash of resourcefulness, and a little pilfering from the farmer’s garden, the chickens whip up a scrumptious snack of chips and salsa. When the rest of the barnyard gets a whiff of the spicy smells and want to join in, it can mean only one thing . . . FIESTA! But when the big day arrives, all their spicy southwestern supplies are gone! Could Mr. and Mrs. Nuthatcher have caught on to the flavor craze?
- Too Pickly by Jean Reidy. Too wrinkly, too squishy, too fruity, too fishy! It’s time to eat, but somebody doesn’t like a single item on his plate. What’s a picky eater to do? This romping text and stylishly bold art make for a delectable board book. Parents (and the picky eaters they love) will recognize themselves in the hilarious antics played out here, while the ending brings reassurance-and with a little luck, a clean plate
- I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child. Lola is a fussy eater. A very fussy eater. She won’t eat her carrots (until her brother Charlie reveals that they’re orange twiglets from Jupiter). She won’t eat her mashed potatoes (until Charlie explains that they’re cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji). There are many things Lola won’t eat, including – and especially – tomatoes. Or will she? Two endearing siblings star in a witty story about the triumph of imagination over proclivity.
3 Links to visit
- eatright.org. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Coping with Picky Eating Phases
- Zero to Three: How to Handle Picky Eaters
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding a Picky Eater
2 Points to research
- Singapore Medical Journal: Managing the ‘picky eater’ dilemma
- Current Opinion in Psychiatry: Picky eating: the current state of research
1 Video to Watch
- Sunnybrook Hospital: Tips for parents of picky eaters