I’ll tell you something – feeding toddlers can be challenging. Well, you already know that, right? Imagine that you’ve put all your efforts to prepare the best dinner for your child and she wouldn’t even taste it. And this after she has barely touched her lunch and has eaten half of her breakfast only. Yes, it’s frustrating! But it is not the end of the world.

The first thing you have to do is to try to stay calm. If you are relaxed, the child will sense your confidence and trust you about the food you serve her. There are a few other things you can do for a picky eater to eat and gain weight as well.

Helping Your Child with Picky Eating

  1. Make it fun – by serving the food in a creative way. Make a bunny sandwich or “draw” a smiley face on her meal using carrot pieces, peas, and asparagus. Change the form of the food you serve. – If she doesn’t like cheese cubes, change the form and offer it as a cheese sauce with her broccoli casserole.
  2. Eat together. Eating as a family awakens your child’s curiosity about new foods, and develops great eating habits. She may want to taste the food from your plate – so be prepared and have some of the food you want her to try placed in the corner of your dish.
  3. Reduce the snacks. Avoid letting your child fill up on sweets and snacks.
  4. Make it a positive experience. Avoid saying ‘she’s so picky, she eats nothing’, in front of your child. Instead you could rather prise her when she eats something healthy or finishes her lunch. Stay positive!
  5. The “last mouthful” mistake. Never force your child to eat when she is not hungry. This “last spoon” may put your child off food and can create negative associations.
  6. Spice it up a bit! Make the meal more appealing by mixing colours, flavours and adding mild spices such as fennel. Thyme, basil, cumin and coriander. Mild spices will also aid digestion, and improve her appetite.
  7. Keep it small! Try to give small servings so she can ask for more. The average toddler serving is going to be about 1/4 of an adult serving size.
  8. Offer a variety of food in her plate. If she has some chicken nuggets, cooked broccoli, sweet potatoes, fresh red peppers and humus dip, she may not eat all of it, but she’s got a choice. And what a healthy one! Even if she eats just one of her chicken nuggets, leave the sweet potatoes, but have some broccoli and a few slices of peppers dipped into humus, she would have eaten from a few food groups already. This would have given her some of the proteins she needs, as well as vitamins and minerals. You may offer some rice pudding or yogurt for e dessert for even more calcium, protein and good fats.
  9. Don’t make a big fuss about it!
    Well, sometimes you just have to accept that your child is not going to eat what you want her too. She may be teething, feeling unwell or just not being that hungry. The only think you could say in this situation, would be: “I see you are not hungry right now. Ok, you will eat it when you are.” Then you just take the meal without making other comments.

Kid friendly Breakfast and Lunch ideas for Picky Eaters

Cheese cubes with grapes
Avocado slices with yogurt dip
Toast slices with cheese
Pear slices
Red peppers and cucumbers with humus
Dried fruits (it’s better to soak them overnight)
Avocado with lemon (just s few drops) on toast
Cooked apple with cinnamon
Toast slices with peanut butter (in case there is not nut allergy)
Mango slices
Egg yolk with butter on toast
Melon slices
Kiwi fruit
Yogurt with peach and apricot bits
Cooked and cooled: green beans, carrot sticks, small florets of cauliflower and broccoli, or pasta shapes