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Tips to Help Your Picky Eater

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You’re sitting at the dinner table and you put 3 or 4 different foods on your toddler’s high chair tray. Not only does your child not eat any of the 3 foods, but your toddler starts throwing the food out of boredom. Sound familiar?

I too had a picky eater. There are many foods and ideas worth trying when you have a picky eater. I also suggest you involve your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can tell you if any type of vitamin or supplement is necessary. Your pediatrician can also tell you if there is a problem more complex than picky eating.

I should tell you that stress will affect your child. If you are stressed at every meal, your child will sense this. Also, if you are stressed at every meal, your child will begin to dislike meal time, and dislike eating.

I found the simplest solution for us when my daughter was quite young was to offer a variety of foods and let her choose the foods she wanted. When she could speak, I could verbally make offers to her and see if any of my choices appealed to her. Again, my goal was to keep both her and I stress free.

Some kids need their mouths stimulated. This can be accomplished through crunchy foods, or through very well seasoned foods, seasonings such as sour or even slightly spicy. We found that my daughter would eat many foods as long as she could dip them. We offered her ketchup, ranch, sweet and sour sauce, BBQ sauce and salsa. These dips were offered as she got a bit older. She would dip literally everything in these sauces. I would make her toast and she’d want a dip. It was hard not to chuckle at her breaking the toast and dipping it in ketchup.

When we were invited to anyone’s home, we always packed her meal. I always told our host up front that I would be bringing my daughters meal. If the host was upset, offended or asked me not to do so, we would decline the invitation. Most folks were willing to accommodate us. By packing her meal and not having to hope she’d eat what was served, it caused much less stress on everyone and made the entire day or evening much more enjoyable.

Have you ever had tempura? It’s a very light coating on the food, and then you fry the food. Because tempura is crunchy, we found my daughter would eat some foods as long as we coated them and fried them. One of her favorites was tempura hot dogs with tempura sweet potato. We cut both into bit size pieces, coated them and then served them. Yes, we would offer a dip also if she wanted.

As my daughter got older, she would go to the grocery store with me and she began to help prepare meals. She ate a lot of chicken fingers for dinners. Again, they were crunchy. She also ate fish sticks with their crunchy coating. Both foods could be dipped in sauces. Very often we made her one main course and the rest of the family a different main course. As adults we are almost never put in a position where we MUST eat a certain meal, and where we don’t have an option to say “no thank you”. By allowing our children that same option we do them a greater service than if we argue, fight, bribe, threaten etc. Some picky eaters do outgrow their pickiness. Other kids carry this pickiness into adulthood. I know there are certain foods I still don’t eat as an adult.

If you believe there is a true medical problem, see your doctor. If you believe you have a picky eater, I strongly suggest offering choices and options to keep the stress out of meals.

Audrey Okaneko is mom to two girls. She can be reached at [email protected] or visited at

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  • Posted On January 15, 2007
  • Published articles 283513

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