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My Sweet Little Picky Eater

By Liz Stanley |

My little one has turned into quite the picky eater. I was always really careful when he was a baby about introducing him to lots of new foods, but by the time he was two, he started getting really stubborn about what he’d put into his mouth. I think I just kind of gave up trying after a while. He eats OK, I’d say. There are a couple vegetables he’ll eat and one or two types of protein. He loves fruit, but it still feels like I’m cooking for him separately every night! Ahh!

I’ve tried the ‘this is what we’re having if you’re hungry you’ll eat it’ and then he didn’t eat dinner for  months and would be starving by the morning. Any tips? Do you have picky eaters too?

Try these 10 Picky Eater Mind Games!


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About Liz Stanley


Liz Stanley

Liz Stanley, founder and editor of the popular craft and style blog, Say Yes to Hoboken, was born and raised a New Yorker but is now perfectly happy to call the fairytale city of San Francisco home with her husband and son. Her work on Say Yes to Hoboken has been featured by The Huffington Post, Martha Stewart, Real Simple, and Parents Magazine. Read bio and latest posts → Read Liz's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “My Sweet Little Picky Eater

  1. kristin says:

    no advice, because i’m right there with you. we call my 3 year old daughter a “fruit bat” because she never met a fruit she didn’t like (she’ll eat a whole pear) but will barely touch meats or veggies. she’ll only eat processed meat like hot dogs and sausage (so we buy “high quality” versions). same with you – if we try to get her to eat what we’re eating, she’ll skip dinner and be starved in the morning. i try to feed her egg-based breakfasts in the morning at least (dutch babies or french toast) to get some protein into her. so hard!

  2. jo says:

    as far as dinner goes, i love what it says in “the family dinner” cookbook by laurie david. she says that it’s your job as a parent to provide the food for your kids and make sure it’s healthy. it’s up to them how much they will eat. she says their rule is that everyone has to try at least one bite of everything. then, if they don’t want anymore, that’s their choice. for me, at my dinner table, this has caused a lot less struggles. for some reason my kids are a lot more willing if they know they only have to take one bite. and then sometimes they’ll eat more. if not, there are no punishments.
    i also really like the blog dinner: a love story. they have a lot of pictures of recipes they’ve made, and then their daughters’ plates. it shows how easy it is to make one meal and then break it down and leave certain elements out for certain eaters. hope this helps! good luck!

  3. mary ann says:

    I just read a really good book by a nutritionist (“What’s Eating Your Child) that had some good tips for picky eaters. She pointed out that many picky children are deficient in zinc, and that affects their ability to taste food. I give my toddlers a zinc supplement and it seems to help.

  4. Caroline says:

    Liz, my oldest daughter is a VERY picky eater. Coincidently, her name is Liz too! :) I have 4 children that range in age from 5 down to 11months and all are different. Some picky, some not at all!
    Here are some things that helped me: Our pediatrician said that some children act as “grazers” in that they simply graze throughout the day. This fits my picky eater to a “T”! She loves to graze (as in eat tiny meals throughout the day) She hates veggies but loves fruit–so I give her fruit with her meal. We stopped trying to fight it. I offer a multivitamin to each child and try to offer lots of variety so that has helped ME have peace of mind. She likes pancakes so i LOAD them with all kinds of heathly stuff (flax meal, tofu, etc, etc) I also tried offering her more choices in other areas of her life (what she wore, what project we would do that day: paint or puzzles, etc) and that seemed to help the struggle a little more at supper.
    The Two years of age mark is when I’ve noticed that mine (even the ones that aren’t picky) seem to start having stronger opinions about food. And supper time is always a time that children get testier! :) )

    GREAT article to open up a discussion! I think all mothers can relate!

    p.s. I found this link via your incredible blog which, of course, I’ve always known about but hadn’t had much of chance to peruse until today via the Sunday Afternoon Crafts. I was one of the other bloggers that contributed for that!:)

  5. Sam says:

    I also have a very picky toddler. I’ve tried lot’s of different methods but what I’ve been told again and again is that this is a phase and they will grow out of it so as parents you just have to do the best they can. I myself was a very picky eater and now I eat about anything :-) . So what works for me (sometimes) is using something like a bento box w/ little containers to present her food— it seems to be less intimidating than a plate full and she seems to have some fun as well. Another thing that works for me is to have other people (especially her favorite Uncle) try her food first and when she sees they like it she wants to try. Sometimes my problem is just getting her to try something… unfortunately she’s not old enough that I can tell her to eat just one bite and she will— she’s 2 and won’t do anything she doesn’t want to :-) . When I can’t get her to outright eat the foods I want I “sneak” them in by using recipes from Jessica Seinfelds cook book for kids. Then I have a little peace of mind at the end of the day. I hope this helps. I have hope because my toddler just went through a growth spurt and ate anything and everything. Now she’s back to picky but I know it’s not forever.

  6. Susanne says:

    When my now 4 yo was going through a super picky phase, our pediatrician suggested melting cheese on anything she was being picky about. It worked! Of course, your kid has to like cheese!

  7. Have you invited him to ‘help’ prepare the meal? That might add interest. What are you giving him in the morning when he’s starving after refusing dinner? Hopefully more of what you offered at dinner! I agree with the mandatory ‘try one bite’ idea. That’s worked with my daughter many times. She’s not a picky eater but shy about trying new things.

  8. Anja says:

    I sometimes do “hide” some veggies in tomatosauce, like zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, carrots … I just cook some of it (not too much though) with the sauce and blend them in. That works with simple pasta with sauce, but also for lasagna, chicken tikka, chili con carne and so on. Also I like to invite my three year old to hang out in the kitchen with me when I’m cooking and he loves to “steal” little pieces of everything I cut to prepare for dinner. He loves raw carrots, raw bell pepper and raw peas. So when he does not eat vegetables later with the actual dinner I don’t mind, because he had his share before. he does not like potatos at all, so I try to be really proud of him if he at least has one or to bites.

  9. kelsey says:

    I have a picky eater too. I’ve noted when I limit his snacks- especially his junky goldfish, graham cracker empty snacks- he eats more at dinner. We instituted a one bite at dinner rule and (embarrassed to say) rewarded it with a dessert (as simple as one jelly bean). I held firm on the one dinner rule, but made sure it included at least one food he liked. While he was hungry in the morning initially, I found after awhile he started to eat more at dinner.
    I still can’t get him to eat veggies beyond a bite. I hide them- pancakes and muffins work well. He loves lasagna and that is an easy place to sneak a lot in- I puree spinach and peas in with my cottage cheese for the filling. Trader Joes makes a half fruit, half veggie juice that is good too.
    I just think of my brother, who throughout his toddlerhood lived on toast, cheese, and fruit. He know eats a wide variety of fruits, meats, and vegetables. Someday our toddlers will too!

  10. Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) says:

    I’m going through this with my older kid (2.5). A lot of what the other comments say is great! I will try these tips. I sneak veggies in, too, and I also try to make large batches of stuff once a week that I know my kids will eat. My kids love chicken nuggets, so instead of buying the junk that comes from the store, I make my own (super-easy) and add pureed veggies to the batter before I bake them in the oven. I’ll make a large batch and then freeze them, and I’ll be supplied for 2 weeks. I’ll also take one day to make homemade crackers and load them with dehydrated veggies and grains (along with cheese). If I make them “look” like the commercial stuff, they are more likely to eat them.

    Liz, I write for a great food website that is centered on cooking for families, especially those with food allergies. If you have a minute, it would be great if you could check it out (this week is Pizza week!):

  11. Stacy D says:

    I’ve been following a wonderful blog – – ever since my girls started to self-feed. It’s a great resource in that it helps guide parents through some of the commom pitfalls parents make when introducing kids to new foods. Some of the tips include using foods your kids already eat to introduce new ones, alternate how frequently you serve different foods to your kids (this is the first step in adding variety), and stop thinking about nutrition, but rather focus on how you talk to your kids about food and what structure you establish around eating. It’s been a huge lifesaver for me when the mealtime battles occur!

  12. sherry Troxell says:

    My youngest daughter…
    “Daddy…why does my brother have a bum tail and I only have a bum bum?”

    “Oh dang, I didn’t caught a chance!” – when she lost at a game

    “Why don’t you have a lap?” – asking an overweight woman at the bus stop

    My 4 y/o son once argued with his sister and said…“DayDay…Santa is dead, he was too fat and his heart stopped peeping!”

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