How to Survive (and Stay Well-Fed During) the Picky Eater Phase

April 24, 2019

Head shakes. “No!” muttered through mouthfuls of food. Little hands raised from high chairs in obvious “stop” motions. These are all signs that you’re in the dreaded toddler picky eater phase.

Don’t fret! We’ve scoured the web for the best tips and tricks for getting through the picky eater phase, and we’ve thrown in a few recipe ideas for good measure. Let’s take a bite.

Give Them a Reality Check

Parenting’s first tip is to remind your child that you’re not a short order cook. No parent has the time, resources, or patience to cook custom meals for everyone, so when it’s time to eat, tell them: “this is what’s for dinner. If you don’t want it, that’s fine.” Don’t force them to eat it, but by letting them know that what you’ve made is the only option, they’re forced to choose to wait or give in to the so-called “yucky meal.”

Put Nutrition in New Packaging

It’s the picky eater cliché: A little one frowning at a full plate of steamed broccoli. So, when you can’t convince them to eat it as-is, try repackaging it in something they like. If they like pasta but not vegetables, try zoodles! Here’s our favorite kiddo-friendly zoodles recipe.

Eat Together—and Make it Fun

Your child looks up to you, so if you’re eating and loving your meal, it’s more likely that they will, too! Add another layer of picky eater persuasion by making dinner super fun. Play fun music or invite their favorite relative or friend over once a week. If dinner is fun family time, you’re less likely to deal with cranky, whiny kids at meal times.

Set Up a Rewards System

It may feel a little icky, but parenting experts recommend trying “bribery” and reminding yourself to not feel guilty about it. When met with a picky eater’s grimace, say, “If you take five bites of this, you can have dessert!” or “If you finish your plate, we can play your favorite game tonight!”

Want more down-to-earth, actionable parenting advice? Check out our blog for awesome posts like:

BONUS: MOMables’ picks for best healthy meals for picky eaters.

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