Handling the stress of picky eaters at mealtime is a struggle for many families. Here are 12 tips from real moms that have dealt with a picky eater or two, and survived to tell the tale!
I’m quickly learning there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to raising children. That goes from conception until who knows when! And yes, that includes topics like handling a picky eater. A friend of mine, a beautiful mom to 4 beautiful children, recently asked her Facebook friends for advice on handling picky eaters in her house. And you know what? There were 54 responses. Yep. That’s a lot, right?! Without naming names and using EXACT quotes, I’ve taken those tips, translated them into Mom-Serbinski text, and put them into a blog post. Many were the same so I condensed them into 12 relatable tips. Guys, this is picky eating advice from REAL families. REAL parents. REAL homes. I hope you enjoy as much as I did, and find a tip or two that works for your family.
BUT FIRST, be sure to check out some of the picky eating strategies that work in our family [beyond 1-2 more tips I share below].
The original Facebook question was this: “Friends of picky eaters, what works in your house? Feeding my kids is easily one of the most stressful parts of my day.”
1. We don’t focus on the food at dinner. We focus on the family time and conversation. Each of the kids are expected to share with us three positive things about their day. We’ve found that when the conversation is flowing, less attention is focused on the food and the picky eater[s].
2. Have them help with food prep, cooking, setting the table, and clean-up. The entire process from fridge to table.
3. I let the kids pick a day on our family calendar and plan the menu.
4. Have your kids help with meal prep. Mine seem to eat things they’ve helped make because they are proud of their work.
5. Having a “choose your favorite toppings” type of meal, like a salad bar, taco bar, or pizza night.
6. Make meal planning a group effort. We’ve had a dry erase board with a list of meals the kids can pick and choose from to help build our weekly meal plan.
[side note from me for this one—> if you have your kids help with meal planning, why not have them help you flip through magazines, cookbooks, or better yet, Pinterest! Healthy food can be very visually appealing for the youngest of eyes!]
7. I lay out veggies and dip while I’m making dinner so if my child is STARVING and asking for a snack, I know she’ll snack on veggies, even if she doesn’t eat them at dinner.
8. When our kids don’t eat what we make, they have a back-up option of PB&J. And they must make it!
9. We ask everyone try what has been prepared. If they opt not to eat their dinner, they can have some raw veggies that are also on the table.
10. We try to have two vegetables at dinner so I know they’ll at least eat one if not both.
11. Offer a favorite food with each meal, that way you know they are going to eat at least ONE thing.
Oh and yes, there were comments about having kids go to bed hungry, and how that it works for some families and not for others. I gave one last tip:
12. If you’re worried about your child going to bed hungry, have a safe food they can eat that’s nutritious and filling, but not something they’d ask for on the regular. I.e. plain yogurt, cottage cheese, a hard-boiled egg.
Ok and because there is ONE more tip working for us lately, I’m giving you a bonus one:
13. Keep on trying. Sometimes it takes up to 15 tries of a food for a child to accept it. You might also consider changing the shape, size, or texture of a food you are preparing [i.e. roasting vs. steaming, sliced vs. diced, breaded vs. plain].
As you can see, there’s no one approach that’s worked for everyone. What gave me hope is that parents of older children commenting on the Facebook post said things DO get better. And I’m seeing that with Joey and Anthony. One day might be a full-blown food fight, and the next day they are eating everything on their plates!
Keep in mind food is something our children can control. They can’t control what time they have to go at school, who their babysitter is, or when they need their teeth cleaned, BUT they can control what goes in their mouths.
OK moms, dads, grandparents, and babysitters: What’s one picky eating or picky eaters word of advice you have that wasn’t shared?!