Preschool Parenting 101: How to handle a picky eater

Picky eating is normal during the toddler and preschool years. Luckily, it is typically a phase that will pass! There are many creative ways of handling a picky eater. Below are some tips to help you deal with your picky eater in a positive way, while maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

Put your goals into perspective:

Oftentimes your child’s rejection of food has less to do with the food itself, and more to do with underlying developmental advances. For example, your child’s refusal to eat what you put on her plate may not be because she doesn’t like the food, but really because she is exercising her newfound independence as she enters the preschool age. She may feel that you are taking that independence away by forcing her to eat the foods you serve. If your goal is to get your child to eat his food, then you should try putting that goal into the perspective of how your independent little one may respond at mealtime.

A good way to do this is by giving her some control over the menu. For example, you could have a make-your-own-taco night and lay out all the ingredients on the table – corn tortillas, flour tortillas, ground beef, rice, beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced avocados, onions – and have her pick and choose what fillings she wants in her burrito. Your child will be able to exercise her independence in this situation, and will be more willing to eat what’s on her plate if she was the one who made it!

Be a role model:

It’s important to have meals together as a family so your toddler can see you, your partner, or older siblings, eating a variety of foods like champs. By exposing your little one to family mealtime, they can see what mealtime is supposed to look like. Serve the same food that you are eating to your toddler, and encourage him to eat a few bites of it.

Try foods in different forms:

Sometimes what your child might not like about the food isn’t the taste at all, but rather the texture. If your child doesn’t like a certain food, try serving it in a different form. For instance, your child may not like cooked peas, but you could find out he loves eating frozen peas right out of the bag after steaming! You can try serving raw veggies if your child doesn’t like them cooked and vice versa. You could even puree the food and serve it in this form first to get your child used to the taste first, before serving it in its whole form and natural texture.

Eating at Parker-Chase Preschool

At Parker-Chase Preschool, we strive to create a healthy learning environment that is also appealing to our students. For children to reach their full learning potential, we believe that they should be consuming a healthy diet on a regular basis. That is why we have an onsite chef providing delicious and nutritious meals served family style for the children to enjoy!