with Picky Eaters
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly
Almost every child goes through a stage where he or she is picky
about food. You cant force a child to eat, but luckily picky
eating usually improves as a child gets older. It can be frustrating
when your child wants to eat the same thing every day or suddenly
decides that he or she hates food that they have been eating over
and over again for the last few weeks - but it's not uncommon.
A childs growth slows down considerably after the first year
and their body requires fewer calories. Often children develop a
taste for certain foods that they will want to eat often and then
suddenly they dont want that particular food anymore. Children
establish a certain amount of independence through meal time because
once they start feeding
themselves, they can choose what they are going to eat. Their refusal
to eat what you put on their plate may actually have less to do
with the food and more to do with the need to show this independence
and test your authority. This is why pressuring your child to eat
certain foods may backfire.
Your child may not eat three complete and well-balanced meals a
day. Most toddlers will only eat two full meals and their appetite
will lessen later in the day. Though you may not feel that your
child is not eating enough, children are generally good at knowing
what their body needs.
A child may be picky by nature, but there are things you can do
to encourage your child to try at least a few bites of nutritious
food at each meal.
*Dont offer a big snack after school.
*Dont offer bribes or rewards for eating.
*Offer smaller portions of food on your childs plate.
talk about dieting in front of your child, especially if he or she
is over weight. Talk about healthy eating instead.
*Try not to offer food other than at meal times.
*Dont let your concern about your childs eating habits
become a power struggle. Dont beg, bribe, threaten, or offer
to make your child something else. Explain that this is the meal
being served, but also include something that he or she likes in
every meal in case your child chooses not to try everything.
*Serve a variety of foods.
*Encourage your child to help plan and prepare meals.
focus on the amount that your child eats at a single meal. Your
child may eat less at one meal and more at the next.
*Reintroduce foods that your child refused to eat every few weeks.
place significance on dessert.
See your pediatrician if you are concerned about your childs
growth or their refusal to eat.
Sally Robinson is Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Keith Bly is
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical
Branch at Galveston Children's Hospital. For more information, visit: