How to help your picky eater learn to enjoy a variety of foods 



Source: ChildStrive;


Does your child refuse foods or insist on eating the same few foods?  Picky eating often starts around one year of age when children start feeding themselves and are learning to talk and walk. With all of this developmental change going on, your child may feel comforted by familiar foods.

How can you help? 

  • Create a mealtime routine. Serve snacks and meals at about the same times, in the same place, and with the same plate and utensils.
  • Offer 3 meals with 2-3 snacks in between, every day.
  • Keep mealtime short: 10-20 minutes
  • In one meal, offer 3-4 preferred foods, alongside 1 new food.
  • Provide small portions of “finger foods” that your child can feed himself.
  • Encourage your child to put foods that he chooses NOT to eat in a “no thank you” or
    “maybe next time” bowl.
  • Include your child in preparing or serving foods.  Let her wash the vegetable or fruit in a bowl of water or the sink; scoop the drained pasta or peas from pot or colander into serving bowl; place one pancake on each plate.
  • Talk about the color, shape, texture, and size of the food.
  • Encourage your child to smell, touch, serve (and maybe taste) the new food.
  • Picky eaters may need 15-20 exposures to new foods before the food becomes something they will eat consistently.
  • Teach your child to help clean up, by throwing napkin or paper plate in trash, carrying dish to sink, or wiping table.

Be careful! 

  • Try not to bribe your child with sweets.  This makes the sweet reward more desirable than the healthy food.
  • Don’t force your child to eat. This can result in a power struggle and cause stress for both of you.
  • Remember, your job is to offer healthy foods.  Your child’s job is to decide what and how much she will eat.  Appetites change from meal to meal and day to day.  This is normal.

To read more about picky eaters and nutrition, search: 

  • How to Handle Picky Eaters Zero to Three
  • Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children


ChildStrive has been partnering with Tulalip families for more than 30 years. For information about your child’s development contact Carol Good at ChildStrive at (425) 353-5656 x7223 or More information about ChildStrive can be found on our website at