Picky eaters

Picky eater? Your child is growing and learning new things. When it comes to food, your child may be ready to try new things. If she still wants only a few favorite foods, that’s OK. You can continue to offer new foods without pressuring her. She will try them when she’s ready.

Better and better Your child will become better and better at using a child-sized spoon and fork. The fork should be dull. She may still want to use her fingers sometimes, and that’s fine.

Your child may be eating a little bit more now. She will still eat smaller meals than you do. You can trust her to know how much she needs. She will eat the amount that is right for her.

Clean hands Children often have dirty hands. Help your child wash her hands before she eats.

Meals with your child You want mealtimes with your child to be enjoyable. And you want her to eat many kinds of healthy foods.

Be patient with your child. This will make feeding her easier and more fun. Talk to her about different foods and their colors and shapes.

Encourage your child to eat well. Show her that you eat fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. She will want to be like you.

Make your mealtimes family times. Have your child sit at the table with the rest of the family. Talk to her about the foods you are serving and include her in the family conversation. Ask her about her day or what she did in preschool.

More types of food Encourage your child to eat more types of foods.
If your child doesn’t like to try new foods,
• offer one new food at a time. Offer it along with a food your child already likes.
• cut foods into fun shapes with a cookie-cutter.
• offer your child small amounts of food. You can offer more if she asks.

You may have to offer a new food as many as 15 times before she will be willing to try it.

If your child refuses what you offer,
• offer her choices between two healthy foods. Let her choose between carrots and green beans, for example.
• bring her to the market, and have her help you shop for foods.
• let your child help decide what you will serve for lunch or dinner sometimes.

Let her help you prepare food. She can help you mix foods together. She can help wash and tear lettuce for a salad. She can also help slice soft foods like mushrooms with a small plastic knife. She is more likely to eat foods she has helped make.

If your child wants the same thing day after day,
• let her have the food she often wants as long as it’s a healthy food.
• offer this favorite food along with some other foods. After a few days she will probably try some of the new foods you are offering.

If your child refuses to eat,
• make sure her snacks are not too close to mealtime. She won’t want to eat if she’s still full.
• don’t worry. Your child will eat what she needs at the next meal or snack time.

How much? Let your child decide how much she wants to eat. Don’t make her finish what’s on her plate if she’s full. Trust your child’s appetite. Read more about children’s appetites>>

No pressure! She may have certain foods she just doesn’t like. That’s OK. We all have foods we don’t like. Don’t pressure your child to eat something she doesn’t want.

Don’t worry! Don’t worry if she still wants to eat with her fingers at times. Young children often like to do this. Be patient and enjoy watching her learn.

Are you a WIC parent? At WIC you can attend a group session about how to feed your child and keep her healthy as she grows. You can also talk with a WIC educator about her eating, growth and development. Your WIC educator will be happy to answer any questions.

Read about WIC eligibility here>>