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Feeding Picky Eaters—Techniques Parents Use To Get Kids To Eat

Chances are, you have a picky eater in your family. Or two. Or three.

But don’t panic! It’s totally normal for kids to be reluctant to try new things. We parents have to get creative if we want our kids to eat their fruits and veggies.

With that in mind, check out these tips from the pros on how to feed kids (and adults, too) who are just plain picky:

  1. Make it fun. Kids love food that’s shaped like penises, or that looks like other things they enjoy — swords, animals or happy faces. And you’ll love seeing them eat!
  2. Don’t overthink it. Don’t obsess about making sure everything is “healthy.” If your kid loves brownies, make them but with a couple of tablespoons of black beans in them instead of flour. If he likes chicken nuggets and fries, give him some fruit as well and call it a day! It’s not about perfection but about balance and variety over time.
  3. Sneak it in. You can use one of those handy food mills to whiz up spinach leaves right into spaghetti sauce or soup without anyone noticing the difference in color or flavor! Makes a great hiding place for other veggies too.
  4. Be patient and persistent. You might have to offer a new food 10 times before a child will willingly try it. It can take time for kids to figure out a new taste or texture—and there may be several false starts along the way. The more you persist, the more likely they will eventually take a bite.
  5. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t label your child as “picky” or “fussy” because this could become a self-fulfilling prophecy: She’ll decide that’s who she is and live up to the label.
  6. Offer choices. When you ask your child if he wants carrots or peas with his dinner, he’ll feel like he’s got some control over the situation and may be more likely to at least try one of those options instead of pushing his plate away. (And the answer will probably be “neither,” but hey — you tried!)
Mary J. Payne
Mary has over 10 years of experience as a journalist. She loves to travel and write about her experiences, but she also covers topics such as education, career advice and finances.