Tips for Picky Eaters

Photo credit: Providence Doucet

Photo credit: Providence Doucet

Did you know it can take introducing a new food multiple times before it is accepted? Some children (as well as adolescents and even adults) will take to a new food after a couple of introductions, and with others, it may take anywhere between 10 to 20+ introductions! If your child doesn't like a new food the first, or even third time you offer it to him, this isn't a reason to throw in the towel. Eating a variety of whole real foods is important for your child to grow and develop normally, and you CAN get them to eat these foods.


Here are some ideas that may help:


  1. Keep offering the food you are attempting to get your child to eat. Your child does not have to eat it. Simply exposing your child to it however is an important part of the process. It is ok for your child to pick up the food, play with it and feel it. This allows your child to get used to the food and it is part of the process.

  2. Offer soft foods cut up in small pieces, like a banana. Your child may be more inclined to eat a bite of a soft banana rather than a crunchy cracker. Bananas, cooked peas and carrots, avocado, plain cooked macaroni, etc., are other examples to try. Cut foods smaller than you think may be necessary.

  3. Give your child a spoon and let him feed himself. Letting him have ‘control’ of the situation may encourage him to eat a few bites of the new food.

  4. Wait to offer your child a new food until he is really and truly hungry. If he’s satiated from other foods, there won’t be much motivation to try something new. 

  5. Give you child a few bites of a new food while you are preparing his meal that includes that new food. Let him familiarize himself with it, play with it and try to eat it.

  6. Take him to a store that gives out samples like Whole Foods and Costco (on the weekends) and you might be surprised at what he will try.

  7. Children are very impressionable, and are great imitators. They will be more likely to want what you are eating, so make your own dietary choices wisely.

  8. Do not panic! While it is frustrating to get your child to diversify his dietary intake, if you are anxious during meals, he’ll pick up on it.


Your child may simply need the time and freedom to explore eating new foods. Be patient, be persistent, and watch the magic happen.



Brown J. Nutrition through the Life cycle 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2011.