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15 Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Picky eaters. So many of us have them — and so few of us know just how to handle them. That’s where our top 100 food bloggers step in. Whether they take the “good cop” or “bad cop” route, these moms share their best tips and tricks for getting a picky eater to eat something (anything!) other than butter and pasta.

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  • Name meals after them 1 of 17
    Name meals after them
    "Sometimes for fun I name certain meals after my kids, like with these sloppy Sammies. We also play a color game at the table where we each call out a color that we have to find on our plate and eat. For some reason, it works every time."
    Aggie's Kitchen
  • Play make believe 2 of 17
    Play make believe
    "When my kids were little, it was hard to get them to each vegetables. We used to call broccoli 'trees,' and mashed potatoes were 'clouds.' The kids were the 'giants' and devoured the trees and clouds in the make-believe forest. My kids are a lot older now, but they still remember eating trees!"
    Amanda's Cookin'
  • Stop pressuring 3 of 17
    Stop pressuring
    "My daughter is the pickiest eater I have ever met. I've tried everything that I can think of to get her to try new foods — none of them have worked. After a long talk with her doctor, he encouraged me to stop pressuring her to eat more. You know what? She is just fine. She is growing, and the fights over food have stopped. She will not be like this forever; I know that she will not go to college only eating white foods. So my best advice is to not worry about it so much. If you think of what your child eats over the course of a week, instead of a day, or even a meal, you'll see they generally get everything they need."
    Baked Bree
  • Let them choose the ingredients 4 of 17
    Let them choose the ingredients
    "My best tip for picky eaters is to get them involved in the cooking process. Having them choose ingredients and help cook makes them feel more connected to the food — which usually makes them more willing to try the food."
    Bell'alimento
  • Put a spin on the classics 5 of 17
    Put a spin on the classics
    "Unexpected preparations can coax even the pickiest eater into trying something new. Homemade quick pickles are a great way to put a new spin on familiar vegetables or fruits. Quick pickled carrots, onions, cherries, and grapes are favorites in our house."
    Brooklyn Supper
  • Use dessert as bait 6 of 17
    Use dessert as bait
    "I try not to push things too much, but we are still firm. My daughter is a great eater, and so was my son — until he turned three. Then it all changed. My rule is if they choose not to eat something, then they cannot have dessert. Usually, dessert always wins!"
    Cannelle et Vanille
  • Never say never 7 of 17
    Never say never
    "Kids' tastes (and taste buds) are ever-shifting. I just keep offering them different foods. I NEVER say 'Dash doesn't like corn,' or 'Bella doesn't like salmon,' because I believe saying these things out loud reinforces pickiness. Instead, I make them taste the food that's in front of them and then we all (try to) move on. A month or so later we try again."
    Dash and Bella
  • Don’t let fun become extinct 8 of 17
    Don't let fun become extinct
    "Sometimes we need to bring the fun back into food! Picky eaters require us to get creative. Is your son fascinated with dinosaurs? How about using a variety of dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters to cut vegetable slices, bread, and other items into something he loves? It's way more fun to eat your dinosaurs!"
    La Fuji Mama
  • Make healthy food look, well, not so healthy … 9 of 17
    Make healthy food look, well, not so healthy ...
    "Who could guess that these cheesy, bubbly enchiladas are hiding spinach, tofu, beans, and more good stuff?!"
    Lunchbox Bunch
  • … And make their favorite foods healthier 10 of 17
    ... And make their favorite foods healthier
    "Take foods they like and make adjustments to make them more healthy (if needed). For example, taco meat, ragu, and chili are all excellent places to add minced vegetables. They assume the rest of the dish is the same based on texture and flavors — my kids don't even notice they're there!"
    Perrys' Plate
  • Have a one-bite rule 11 of 17
    Have a one-bite rule
    "My friend taught me a picky-eating tip that has been very effective in our house. It's called the 'no thank you bite.' My daughter doesn't have to eat anything she doesn't want to eat, as long as she takes a 'no thank you bite' before refusing. Ninety percent of the time, it turns out she likes it. Now she is always telling other kids to take 'no thank you bites' like it's an awesome trick she discovered."
    Prudent Baby
  • Don’t stress over it 12 of 17
    Don't stress over it
    "If you're stressed about what your kid is putting in their mouth, they probably are too. Keep it simple: offer a variety of healthy foods, let your picky eater see you and siblings enjoying them, encourage them to try, and if they don't, let a multi-vitamin fill in the gaps until they're feeling more adventurous. Just don't give up! Keep those veggies on the table at every meal."
    Tallgrass Kitchen
  • Instill a zero-tolerance policy 13 of 17
    Instill a zero-tolerance policy
    "The minute you feed the picky-eater habit, you become a short-order chef. That said, each imp can pick one food they never, ever have to eat."
    The Saucy Apron
  • Drown it in sauce 14 of 17
    Drown it in sauce
    "If the kids get squeamish about something I've cooked up, whether it's fish, chicken, meat or vegetables, I let them drown it in sauce. It's amazing how dipping something 'yucky' in a delicious southern cola barbecue sauce makes the eating so much easier."
    This Mama Cooks! on a Diet
  • Give them options 15 of 17
    Give them options
    "Try to remove any element of power struggle from the game of whether and what to eat. Have an abundance of healthy options available, and let kids make as many of their own choices as possible."
    Umami Girl
  • Walk the walk 16 of 17
    Walk the walk
    "Be the role "Be the role model for your children. Children won't naturally gravitate toward healthy foods, so it's up to you, the parents, to set the example. You'll soon see that their food choices will mirror yours."
    Under the High Chairmodel for your children. Children won't naturally gravitate toward healthy foods, so it's up to you, the parents, to set the example. You'll soon see that their food choices will mirror yours."
    Under the High Chair
  • Leave the junk at the store 17 of 17
    Leave the junk at the store
    "Always provide a wide variety of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables that kids can nibble on whenever they feel snack-y at home. Eliminate processed foods by passing on them at the grocery store — don't even keep them in the house. Allow kids to order from the adult menu at restaurants. Parents can also set a good example by being adventurous eaters and trying new foods in front of their kids."
    Wicked Good Dinner

For even more picky eater tips, check out what the other top 100 food bloggers had to say!

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