How Parents Can Help Overcome & Prevent Picky Eating in Kids
If your child is a picky eater, you're in the right place! We know that feeding kids is tricky and stressful. You're not alone! We're a team of experts giving you cutting-edge tools to help you overcome your child's picky eating and help you feel better about mealtimes.
We'll help you:
Understanding What Causes Picky Eating
Feeding kids is tricky. We say that a lot around here. Preventing picky eating is one of the core struggles of parents everywhere (our Instagram shows just how true that is).
It's important to understand that your child is not trying to be picky. Picky eating is not a character defect in your child and it's not there because you've somehow failed your child as a parent.
There are several big picture causes of picky eating (with lots of causes grouped into each one of these bigger picture groups). We discuss them in depth in BetterBites, our best-selling course for the families of selective eaters. Here are the main causes of picky eating:
- Basic - lack of structure or nurture in the home feeding environment
- Anxiety - fear of foods or new foods
- Sensory experiences - strong experiences with food
- Lack of interest - little to no appetite
- Physical or medical challenges - unable to eat certain foods
Children can be in one or several of these categories. If you'd like to learn more about basic picky eating and how to start working on overcoming it at home, we created a free picky eater guide for you. It helps you understand what "structure and nurture" look like during mealtimes and how you can improve it in your home.
Overcoming Picky Eating At Your Child's Pace
Reversing picky eating isn't as easy as it sounds! It's a process and your child will determine the pace of learning to eat new foods.
To fix or overcome picking eating, first we work on the home feeding environment. Here are the core best practices that we recommend:
1. Let your child decide whether to eat and how much.
We know, this sounds so hard! This means not pressuring your child to eat. Here are a few phrases that we often hear that kids feel as pressure:
- “Just try one more bite.”
- “You have to eat it or you can’t go out to play.”
- “You will make mom very happy if you try a bite.”
- "You can have dessert as soon as you try this food."
This also means not making your child finish their plate or "Eat 3 more bites to get down."
2. You decide what foods are served for meals and where and when meals are served.
You don't have to be a short order cook. In fact, making your child special meals may be contributing to picky eating!
Instead, serve meals and make sure there is at least one safe food available for them to fill up on if they choose.
Same goes for meal times and eating places. You choose where food is available, at a place your child can sit down. You also provide foods on a routine basis so that your child knows when meals and snacks are coming.
3. Build your child's comfort with different foods.
Interacting with food can be a great way to help your child become more comfortable with foods. We highly recommend food activities or "food play" to help your child learn to try new foods. In fact, it's so helpful, that we've included a food activity idea in each of our guides below that help your child eat specific foods at their own pace.
The best way to help a selective child become more comfortable with foods is to regularly serve foods that they won't eat. We know that sounds crazy, but if they never see it, they will never eat it!
4. Get help when you need it.
Finally, feeding a picky eater, especially an extreme picky eater, is hard to do alone.
Extreme picky eaters often eat less than 30 foods, never ever try new foods, and once they lose a food, it never comes back. Additionally, as the parent of an extreme picky eater, you likely feel like feeding your child is much harder than other families.
For parents with extreme picky eaters and all the less fussy eaters as well, we created an evidence-based course called BetterBites. It's our comprehensive program that helps families with a picky child ages 0-10 (sometimes even older) get their child on the road to eating more foods. Thousands of families have experienced less feeding stress and their child trying new foods at their own pace. The parents will also tell you they love the supportive community, because reversing picky eating is a marathon, not a sprint, and success comes at your child's pace.
Serving a Variety of Foods to Your Family
Serving a variety of foods is one of the best ways to help your fussy eater eat more foods. The problem is, it's hard. Really, really hard.
We've come up with several tools to help you. If you're busy and having a really difficult time finding ways to bring a variety of foods into your diet, we created Real Easy Weekdays for you. It takes a lot of the brainwork out of feeding your family.
If you're on a strict budget and you're having a hard time coming up with meals that taste good and also expose your child to new foods, Affordable Flavors might be helpful for you. We help you feed a family of four for less than $500 in groceries per month.
And finally, if you are completely overwhelmed and struggling to make any meals at all, we have a special survival guide for you.
Help your child try new foods with our free Picky Eater Food Guides
We know how hard it can be to know exactly what to do to help your child try new foods. We have a special guide for each food (we're adding more foods every day). Each guide will help you learn to talk about the food with your picky eater, have a food activity that will help your child eat that food, and learn the best ways to serve the food to your child.
Check out one of our most recently added guides: