Top 10 Tips for Parents to Turn the Tables on Picky Eaters

a family sits together on a dinner table. father on the left, young girl in the middle, and mother on the left. mother is giving the child healthy green food but the child is upset and fussing. Father is holding both his hands up, probably emotional as well.

Did You Know? A study in China showed that up to 36% of children 24-35 months old showed prevalence of picky eating (Li et al., 2017). Picky eating might be brushed off as “just a phase”, but if this behavior persists, it may lead to malnutrition, social difficulties, and increased anxieties to food, which will severely impact your child’s development. 

Factors On Why Children Are Fussy With Food

  • Developmental Stage: As toddlers and young children are learning to express their independence, they often use food as a way to assert control. Saying “no” to certain foods or food groups is part of this development process.
  • Taste & Texture Sensitivity: Children often have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so they might find certain flavors particularly strong or unappealing and are sensitive to the texture of certain foods.
  • Neophobia: Children are programmed with the survival instinct to stick to what they know is safe to eat, which is why they are cautious to try new foods. 
  • Genetic Factors: Research indicates that genetics plays a role in picky eating. Certain children may be genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to certain taste and texture. You may have a Super Taster on your hands!
Sad child sitting in between parents. All of them have healthy green food in front of them. The parents are trying to comfort the child and encourage her to eat healthy foods.
Pink baby shark on the left demonstrating how to do a buccal swab to collect saliva sample for DNA Test Kit. Yellow baby shark on the right is winking and smiling.

DID YOU KNOW?
Baby Shark x CircleDNA Kids
Tests your child for Fat, Carbohydrate, Salt and Taste Sensitivity, Lactose Intolerance, as well Coeliac Predisposition and Toxin Generation Speed

Family enjoying food together around a table. Father is peeling oranges, grandpa is eating grapes, mother is chopping fruits, and the child is holding a watermelon.

Turning the Table On Picky Eaters

  1. Offer Variety: Regularly introduce new foods to your child’s diet. It can take numerous exposures to a new food before a child will accept it, but building trust between you and your child will make future offerings easier to accept. 
  2. Cook Together: Witnessing the transformation of ingredients to food will increase their willingness to eat the food they helped prepare. It is also a great bonding activity!
  3. Create a Food Adventure Chart: Develop a chart where your child can place a sticker each time they try a new food. This turns trying new foods into a fun adventure, encouraging a positive attitude towards unfamiliar items.
  4. Set a Schedule: Regular meal and snack times can help children understand when to expect food and can help prevent grazing, which might decrease their appetite for mealtimes. 
  5. Lead by Example: Children often mimic the behavior of adults. Regularly eating and enjoying a variety of foods can encourage your child to do the same.
Family preparing food in the kitchen. The child on the left holds out a bell pepper to the man on the right, who is chopping vegetables.
  1. Keep Portions Small: Large portions can be overwhelming. Start with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.
  2. Make Meals Enjoyable: Keep the atmosphere at meal times relaxed and positive. Mealtimes are a social activity, encourage conversation and avoid distractions like TV.
  3. Don’t Force Eating: Forcing a child to eat can create a negative association with food, which may develop into picky eating and in the future disordered eating. Instead, encourage trying new foods but respect your child’s appetite.
  4. Gradually Introduce New Foods: Pair new foods with familiar ones and gradually increase the new food’s proportion over time.
  5. Praise Healthy Eating: Positive reinforcement can encourage continued healthy eating habits. Open communication is important as your child is slowly developing into their own person!

Takeaways

Picky eating usually lessens over time as your child gets older, so building good habits early on is vital. It takes a village to raise a child, so do not shy away from consulting a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to help inform your child’s nutrition plan.

You can also order the Baby Shark x CircleDNA Kids Test for your little one and receive 120 comprehensive DNA reports spanning 13 categories, including diet, nutritional needs, intolerances, weight regain, and much much more.

Finally, you can stop guessing, and start knowing!

From the left: Baby Shark Sticker & Story Book: What Are My Hidden Talents?, Baby Shark x CircleDNA Kids Test Kit, a phone screenshot of the results of the DNA test, showing Diet, Nutrition, Wellbeing, Stress & Sleep, Pollution, and Skin.

References

Li, Z., van der Horst, K., Edelson-Fries, L. R., Yu, K., You, L., Zhang, Y., Vinyes-Pares, G., Wang, P., Ma, D., Yang, X., Qin, L., & Wang, J. (2017). Perceptions of food intake and weight status among parents of picky eating infants and toddlers in China: A cross-sectional study. Appetite, 108, 456-463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.11.009

Related Posts

What is Acai and Its Health Benefits?

Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small, dark purple berry native to the Amazon rainforest. Known for its rich nutrient profile and numerous health benefits, acai has gained…

Biohacking: Unlocking Your Body’s Full Potential

More tech-savvy and health-conscious people are turning to biohacking as a means of enhancing their personal performance and well-being. But what exactly is biohacking, and how might…

Newest Diet Trends for 2024 – A Comprehensive Guide

Unlock the secrets to the latest 2024 Diet Trends from TikTok crazes to Hollywood regimes. Find out which diet aligns with your lifestyle and how CircleDNA’s Premium Test Kit can personalize your nutritional journey!

Pint-Sized Pita Pals: Fun Mediterranean Meals Your Kids Will Love to Munch On

Whisk Away to Wholesome: Easy, Exciting, and Kid-Approved Mediterranean Delights!

The Impact of Diet on ADHD in Children

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many children worldwide and presents significant challenges for children and their families. While medication and therapy are often…

Understanding the BRAT Diet for Children: Is It Still Recommended?

When children experience gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, vomiting, or an upset stomach, parents often seek safe dietary options to ease their symptoms. One traditional approach has been…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *