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How to Handle a Picky Eater

Getting fussy children to eat nutritious food takes a little bit of psychology on your part. And a lot of patience!


  • Step 1: Respect their fears Don't be too hard on a child who avoids trying new foods. Researchers have discovered that some children are genetically predisposed to food neophobia, or the fear of unfamiliar food.
  • Step 2: Analyze their preferences Think about the foods your child will and won't eat and look for patterns. There may be a texture that your child doesn't like, but if the same food is prepared a different way, they may enjoy them (or at least eat them).
  • TIP: Many kids who won't eat cooked carrots will gobble them up raw.
  • Step 3: Bring home new foods Keep introducing new foods. A child who turns up their nose at vegetables may not necessarily be a picky eater; they may just hate the veggies you're accustomed to serving.
  • TIP: Involve your child in picking out an exotic fruit or vegetable "of the week" and they'll be more likely to try it.
  • Step 4: Be creative Be creative about how you serve foods. Studies show kids are more likely to eat stuff they can dip and scoop.
  • TIP: Have your children help prepare food; it will increase their interest in eating it.
  • Step 5: Don't bribe them Don't reward children for eating a food they don't like with one they do like. Bribing them this way reinforces the idea of one food as "bad" and one food as "good," which only serves to make them dislike the "bad" food even more.
  • Step 6: Eat your veggies Eat your food – with gusto! Children take their cues from you; if you act like broccoli is something to be enjoyed, not endured, they'll be more likely to feel that way, too.
  • Step 7: Don't give up Make it a rule that your child has to take at least one bite of whatever you prepare, even if it is something they hate. Research shows it can take as many as 10 exposures to acquire a taste for a food.
  • FACT: There is little difference in overall nutrient intake between so-called picky eaters and good ones, according to a study.

You Will Need

  • Analysis of their food preferences
  • Creativity
  • Perseverance

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