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How to Parent the Picky Eater

Is your child a picky eater? Get some tips on parenting picky eaters from Dr. Mary Ulrich:

  • Be proactive.  From the very beginning, only offer healthy choices.
  • Be persistent.  It may take a human up to 14 trials of a food to accept it; if your child doesn’t like a food at first, keep offering it intermittently.  Mix new foods with foods the child likes.
  • Be flexible.  Offer a wide variety of foods; if your child doesn’t like one, maybe they will like another.
  • Be fun.  Make the food tasty and appealing.  For example, use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into cool shapes.
  • Be a good example.   Enjoy eating healthy foods yourself.
  • Be organized.  Offer meals and snacks on a schedule.  Serve only water in between meals as a drink.   Foods taste so much better when one is hungry!
  • Be patient.  It is common for children to eat well one day and not another.   Avoid stress at mealtimes; make it a time the family enjoys being together…without distractions like television and phones.  And remember, the serving size is much smaller for a toddler than a teen!!
  • Be active.  Exercise increases one’s appetite.  Play outdoors.
  • Be inclusive.  Children tend to eat food better that they help prepare.   As you are cooking with them, give them choices when you can  (eg “Should we make blueberry smoothies today or strawberry?”)
Picky Eater Project - Win the Food Fight - The Picky Eater Project
Picky Eaters and What to Do | Nutrition | CDC
Picky Eaters | WIC Works Resource System (

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