How Should I Deal With a Picky Eater?
My daughter would be happy eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How can I get her to eat different foods?
It can be frustrating when kids want to eat the same thing every day — but it’s not uncommon. Kids are often slow to accept new tastes and textures, so you may have to present a food 10 to 15 times before they’ll accept it. Encourage your daughter to give new foods a try, but don’t force her to eat them.
Look for recipes with ingredients your kids like, and invite them to join you in the grocery shopping, cooking, and serving of foods. Don’t let them fill up on juice or milk before meals, and try offering veggies as between-meal snacks.
Since your daughter likes peanut butter, let her put it on other foods, like apples or celery. Sometimes preparing foods differently, presenting foods in interesting ways, or using cookie cutters to cut food into fun shapes, can make foods more appealing to picky eaters.
It’s important not to let a child’s pickiness become a source of mealtime tension. You shouldn’t cook special meals just for a picky eater, but do include something your daughter likes in every meal. And although it might be tempting, don’t use food as a reward. Telling kids they can have a cookie if they eat their broccoli only reinforces the appeal of the cookie over the veggies.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013