How to Raise a Picky Eater And other tips for parents

Rare is the family that doesn’t have a child who goes through a phase of picky eating (or never grows out of one!). Speaking in Northbrook in October to a group of moms of young children with the Mighty Mom Spot, there was not one mom who didn’t have a picky eater on her hands.

There are three main causes to picky eating:

  1. Undiagnosed, underlying medical problem.
  2. Sensory disorder.
  3. Behavioral: either disrupted parent-child relationship or strong personality.

Causes #1 and #2 should be addressed by a doctor or dietitian. As for #3, this is the most common reason for picky eating and the easiest one to fix.

But first, let us address 10 sure-fire, simple steps to create a picky eater. With one in nearly every family, it’s clearly not a hard task.

Rule #1: Make sure to only serve foods that you know your child will eat! If you never (or rarely) expose your child to new foods, you can be sure he will continue to eat the same ones he enjoys.

Rule #2: Have your child eat alone. If that is not possible, make sure your child has a kid-friendly meal and isn’t expected to eat what everyone else is eating. Kids that don’t see adults eating interesting or new foods will never want to try them.

Rule #3: If you think your child hasn’t eaten enough, you are surely correct.

  • Give them verbal encouragement to eat more.
  • If not effective, use utensils or your hands to feed your child yourself because everyone who is full wants an adult trying to shove food in his mouth.

Rule #4: After serving a new food a couple of times, if your child refused to eat it or hates it, add it to the “DO NOT SERVE” list and quit wasting your money buying and throwing food away. Because who has time for the idea that it can take 20 exposures to a new food before a kid will like it?

Rule #5: Never let your child become hungry. Make sure your child has access to food and can graze all day long.

Rule #6: Make your child constipated by serving plenty of refined carbs – this will decrease your child’s appetite and help prevent obesity. Fill them up on some of the following and be sure she never wants to try anything new you make:

  • White bread/buns/bagels
  • Noodles, pasta and rice
  • Goldfish and Cheez-its
  • Pretzels
  • Breaded chicken products
  • Pizza

Rule #7: At mealtime, let your child leave the table, walk around, sit on the floor and eat wherever desired! Make sure the TV is on or the iPad is nearby so your child doesn’t get bored.

Rule #8: Prevent dehydration by allowing your child to drink whatever is desired between meals.

Rule #9: Never let your child go to bed hungry.

  • If your child does not eat a good meal, especially dinner, give them a good, hearty bedtime snack.
  • Make sure it’s something they like this time.

Rule #10: Most importantly, coerce, bribe and argue with your child about eating. Make sure your child knows how important it is to you that he/she eats well. Get upset, cry, threaten with consequences and raise your voice. Kids love this and always respond by deciding the parent is right and permanently changing their behavior.