Tips to Help Your Picky Eater
posted by Research Admin 1 on 10 January 2020
CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical activity and Obesity
Good nutrition is important for young children to help them grow healthy and strong. Follow these tips to help your picky eater try new foods.
Children may not like every food you give them on the first try. Give them a chance to try foods again and again, even if they don’t like them at first. Children may need to try some foods many times before they like them.
Approaches to Try
- Try eating the food first to show them you like it. Then, let them try it.
- Make funny faces with the foods on their plate. It may help them get excited to eat it.
- Give them a choice of different foods to try. Let them decide which one to try today.
- Serve new foods with foods you know they like.
- Try freezing small bites of leftover foods. You can use these later and avoid throwing food away.
- Wait a couple of days before offering the food again. It can take more than 10 times before your child likes it.
As children get older, they may start refusing foods they used to like or start showing signs of being a picky eater. Favoring just a couple of foods or not wanting foods to touch each other on the plate are normal behaviors. These behaviors often go away by the time the child is about 5 years old.
Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full
As you encourage your picky eater to try new foods, watch for signs that they may be hungry or full. Let them decide how much they want to eat. Your child does not need to finish all the food in the jar or on the plate. Talk to your pediatrician or nurse if you are concerned about how much or how little they are eating.
Children may be hungry if they:
- Reach for or point to food.
- Open their mouth when offered a spoon or food.
- Get excited when they see food.
- Use hand motions or make sounds to let you know they are still hungry.
Children may be full if they:
- Push food away.
- Close their mouth when food is offered.
- Turn their head away from food.
- Use hand motions or make sounds to let you know they are full.