6. Recruit your child's help
At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Don't buy anything that you don't want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.
7. Set a good example
If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.
8. Be creative
Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices, or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.
9. Minimize distractions
Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating. Keep in mind that television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary or less nutritious foods.
10. Don't offer dessert as a reward
Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child's desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.
If you're concerned that picky eating is compromising your child's growth and development, consult your child's doctor. He or she can plot your child's growth on a growth chart. In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days. The big picture might help ease your worries. A food log can also help your child's doctor determine any problems.
In the meantime, remember that your child's eating habits won't likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
July 28, 2017
See more In-depth
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- Feeding "picky eater" preschoolers. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://eatrightfoundation.org/. Accessed June 13, 2017.
- Leung AKC, et al. The 'picky eater': The toddler or preschooler who does not eat. Paediatrics and Child Health. 2012;17:454.
- Healthy tips for picky eaters. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers-picky-eating. Accessed June 13, 2017.
- Tips for dealing with a picky eater. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/10-Tips-for-Dealing-With-a-Picky-Eater_UCM_303811_Article.jsp#.WT8702eGPrc. Accessed June 12, 2017.
- Green RJ, et al. How to improve eating behaviour during early childhood. Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. 2015;1:1.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 14, 2017.