Beware the dreaded, fearsome, blood-curdling…PICKY EATER!!!

I wanted pizza!

It’s a common drill.  Monday: Kid eats chicken and appears to love it.  Tuesday: Kid eats carrots and appears to delight in them.  Wednesday: Kid is all over Swiss cheese and wants it on everything.  Thursday through Sunday: Kid refuses to touch, look at, smell or be in the same room with chicken, carrots, cheese and any of the other foods he ravaged over the past week!  Sound familiar?

Well, I haven’t done a Top 10 list (okay – so there’s 13 – go with it!) lately and thought it might be a good idea to toss one out there on a topic I’m asked about all the time when I meet folks in the Halton community: how to deal with the dreaded picky eater.  “Maestro: queue the scary background music please!”

The truth of the matter (that no one ever likes to hear) is that being a fussy eater is a normal part of growing up.  Refusing to eat is often an issue of a child trying to exert control, having little to do with the actual food at all.  As long as a kid is healthy and growing and developing as expected, a relaxed approach to food is the best way to go.  How you feed your child is as important as what you feed them.  Yada yada – even I’m yawning. LOL!  But read on!

Try some of these ideas. They might work for you!

  1. Eat meals at the table as a family whenever possible. Children eat better when the family eats at the table together. Also, make only one meal for all family members to enjoy.
  2. Make mealtimes a social time. Talk about the day’s events and whatever else the kids want to chat about. It’s amazing what you find out at the dinner table!
  3. Avoid distractions. Remove toys and turn off the television and other electronics.
  4. Schedule regular meal and snack times.
  5. Limit juice to one half to three quarters of a cup per day. If they are thirsty between meals, offer water.
  6. Keep portion sizes small. Refill the plate if your child asks for more.
  7. Serve new foods over and over again. Place a new food on the table with the rest of the meal, without fuss. If not eaten, try again another day.
  8. Get the kids in the kitchen and involved – whether it’s helping prepare food in the kitchen or growing a garden.
  9. Keep a variety of healthy, ready-to-eat snacks available such as cut up vegetables, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers.
  10. Don’t bribe, pressure or reward your kids for finishing their meal. Children want to be independent in their eating and will not eat well if they feel pressured.
  11. Allow your kids to decide if or how much they will eat from the healthy choices offered. Trust that they will eat if they’re hungry and realize that appetites vary from day to day.
  12. Set a good example. Eat with your kids at the table, and eat well yourself by choosing a variety of foods. Let them catch you eating healthy snacks!
  13. If you’re concerned about your child’s growth, or you want to try out a great tool to check how well your child is eating and if there might be an issue, you can always turn to the NutriSTEP Nutrition Screening Tool for guidance.

Have some ideas of your own about how to ensure kids get the nutrition they need while enjoying the experience?  Do tell!  There are a number of ways you can reach us:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet with us @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this blogger:

Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department.  Wanna know more about her?  Read her blogs!  She’ll tell ya!  (She kinda likes to talk.)

it’s a great tool to assess how well your child is eating and if there might be an issue

This entry was posted in Children & Tweens, Healthy Eating for Toddlers & Preschoolers, Healthy Eating for Your Child/Tween, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Beware the dreaded, fearsome, blood-curdling…PICKY EATER!!!

  1. Pingback: Family Dinners – Important for Babies and Toddlers Too | HaltonParents

  2. Pingback: “My toddler refuses to eat!” | HaltonParents

  3. Pingback: Sugary Snacks and Kids: What’s the Right Combination? | HaltonParents

  4. Pingback: Are you contributing to mealtime mania? | HaltonParents

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