Simple Parenting

11 Strategies For Dealing With Picky Eaters—From Parents Who’ve Been There

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Chicken nuggets, plain ol’ pasta, mac & cheese—if your kiddo has a limited menu, you’re not alone. Here are some new ideas for picky eaters, straight from other parents who’ve been there!

“When my daughter helps me cook, she gets much more excited about eating because she had a hand in making the meal.” — Debbie

“If I puree foods, my toddler is more likely to eat them than if I offer finger foods. Sometimes I’ll puree something sweet, like yams, with broccoli or spinach to balance the flavors, but I try never to mask anything completely so he can develop a taste for them.” — Angela

“Each night, a different family member chooses what we have for dinner (and you can’t choose the same thing twice in a row). If you refuse to eat someone else’s choice, you forfeit your next turn to choose. Knowing at least once a week he’ll get what they want motivates our son to try new things. Bonus: I don’t have to come up with seven different dinners a week!” — Dana

“If they don’t like something, I suggest they eat the same amount as their age. ‘You’re 4? Eat 4 green beans!’” — Lucinda

“We serve foods in fun ways. For example, salmon alone is OK, but put it on a stick with teriyaki sauce, and it’s way more fun.” — Carina

“We try to be good role models and eat together as a family. When our child sees us eating a variety of foods happily, it sets the tone that we’re not going to make different meals for different family members (nor are we going to complain).” — Aurora

“I decided to add color to my son’s plate with broccoli, tomatoes, pumpkin, you name it. If he kicked up a stink we repeated the same mantra, ‘You don’t have to eat it all, but you have to try it.’ We were in it for the long game … and it worked! Six weeks later he started to willingly try new foods. Hang in there!” — Shona

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.