Posted by: Meagan | January 31, 2011

Tips on Getting Picky Toddlers to Eat

I have been doing more perusing the twittersphere and came across Megan from Social and the writing prompt for today was “what are your tips to get picky toddlers to eat?”

This is a hard question. I have a very picky eater and it takes a lot of energy to feed a picky eater and find a good balance to encourage and disciplining them. So I thought I would summon all my years of motherly experience and share what I have found that helps, but none of these are hard and fast and remember flexibility is key.

-Feed your baby/young toddler foods you eat.

I start with this because I hope that by doing this, it will aid in preventing a picky toddler/preschooler.

At grocery stores you’ll find the premade “toddler meals” and I would suggest you don’t buy them unless grandma and grandpa are watching the kiddo for the night. My one year old eats EVERYTHING my husband and I eat while his older brother eats only a fraction of what we eat. I really believe that the reason is because we kept him on baby food and plain noodles/food way too long. Some kids are picky, I know I was, but feeding them their own special meals isn’t going to do them any favors.

*If your older baby/young toddler doesn’t have many teeth try finding a food mill that will grind up your table food to a more manageable consistency for your baby.

And don’t forget to cut up table food for your kiddo into more manageable bites they will love!

-Offer your toddler a variety of foods at dinner by putting a little of everything on their plate.

One thing I firmly believe in with this is that your child can have as much of whatever kind of food they like (as long as it’s healthy, no bowls full of prunes because you know that wont end well). But if they want dessert or a treat after they have to try another, new food on the plate. I will be the first to say that my son often goes without treats because he refuses to try new things. But when he does try something new and he gets a treat his is so much more excited for it and is really proud of himself and will talk about the new food he tried for days and days.

-Super Man Bite!

I have friends that encourage their kids to take a “Superman Bite” or whatever character they like. Monster Bites, Robin hood Bites, Princess Bites, anything of that sort seems to help motivate kids to take a bite of food they normally wouldn’t.

-Cut Them Some Slack

There are times when I realize I’ve made dinners all week that my son didn’t like and dinner was a fight every night. Or if your kid has had a rough day then try to have a meal or two that you know they enjoy.

-Don’t Be a Pushover

I have to add this because children are clever. They figure things out much more quickly than we give them credit for. I may let my son pick what we have for dinner occasionally but if when it is made and in front of him and if he then throws a fit and refuses to eat he usually goes to bed without dinner. This being said, let me add that I think this has only ever happened twice, but it’s important. He knows that just because he cries and throws a fit he doesn’t get his way. That gets him a trip to his room for time out or right to bed.

On that same note, don’t give in and hand over the chocolate chips to your child “Because that’s all she’ll/he’ll eat.” Tell your kiddo, “I love you, but you know chocolate chips are treats and we don’t eat treats for breakfast. If you eat all your lunch you can have a few chocolate chips!”

-Don’t Get Angry

This will just fuel the fight between parent a child and make it a battle of pride and emotion, not nutrition. It can be hard, and sometimes as I parent I have to walk away, or completely turn all child/food commenting and persuasion to my husband.

-Keep Your Chin Up

Let me just share my two cents about pureeing vegetables and putting them in juice or whatever. If you can do that then do it! If you have a child that will not tolerate ANY sauce on ANYTHING, will not eat macaroni and cheese if there are little bits of anything else in it then do not dispair, don’t give up, you are not alone. If you are concerned that they are not getting enough vitamins or minerals then I’d suggest you buy something like Pediasure. Just because you buy something like a nutrition drink doesn’t mean that’s the end of your food fight (pun intended!). Don’t give up on offering a variety of foods, they’ll come around, someday.



  1. I love this! Definitely a helpful post. Now if you could do one on potty training. Haha! I’m just having such a hard time potty training Ben and I can use all the tips and tricks that I can get.

  2. I like all your tips. It is kind of engrained in us to feed babies/toddlers bland foods. I read in a magazine that it’s good to introduce new, strong flavors (especially spices) early on. It seems so wrong! But what do mothers in India feed their babies? Curry. What do Italian mothers feed their babies? Garlic. So I started adding spices to every jar of baby food. Nutmeg and cinnamon with bananas. Squash would sometimes have cinnamon, sometimes it would have garlic salt or onion salt. I even used chili powder! She ate it all. And maybe she would’ve been a good eater anyway, but it opened my eyes to the fact that it doesn’t make sense to avoid flavor for the formative first foods.

    • I love that Lara! Adding spices to the baby food is such a good idea I don’t think I would have thought of! Thanks!

  3. […] Other Picky Eater Post […]

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