Picky Eaters: Commonly Asked Questions

boy deciding between healthy food and dessert

Children sometimes don't eat as well as you would like. Some children have a short list of foods they will eat and others simply refuse to try new foods. Read on for quick answers to some common questions about feeding picky eaters.

How can I get my child to try new foods?

Children need to see a new food many times before they will actually eat it. Try these tips:

  • Put a new food on your child’s plate for him to look at and experiment with. Have him try "one bite". This can help increase comfort and acceptance of new foods.
  • Build up your child’s list of acceptable foods by adding a few new foods each day or week. For example, if she always wants a cheese sandwich for lunch, change the vegetables, fruit or soups you serve with it.
  • Avoid force feeding or offering a reward for tasting new foods as this may decrease acceptance.
  • Be a good role model! Eating with parents, siblings or peers who are enjoying new foods can help.
  • Involve your child in making a meal. Children who help make a meal are more likely to eat it! 

My child snacks all day and then won't eat supper – what can I do?

Children can fill up easily if they snack all day.

  • Offer healthy snacks at least one to two hours before meals. Closer to meal times, offer a plate of cut up fruit or raw vegetable sticks.
  • Avoid high fat chips, cookies or other baked goods as snacks since they are low in nutrients and very filling.
  • Get your child to be active throughout the day to build his appetite.

My child eats a lot of bread and cereal. Is that okay?

The amount of grain products like bread and cereal that children need depends on their age. Watch this video to find out how many servings your child needs. When choosing breads and cereals, try these tips.

  • Look for whole grain breads and cereals made with 100% whole grain whole wheat, oatmeal, rye, pumpernickel, barley or corn.
  • Use the nutrition facts label to help you choose breads and cereals that are higher in fibre and lower in sugar.
  • Offer other foods with breads like egg, hummus or cut up chicken.
  • Offer other foods with cereals like cut up fruit and yogurt.

What can I do if my child won't eat meat?

Avoiding meat is not a concern as long as your child is getting the nutrients she needs from other foods. Foods such as eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu and fortified meat alternatives like veggie burgers can take the place of meat. Try these tips:

  • Make an egg salad with 2 eggs, a creamy dressing, celery and cucumbers
  • Add beans to your favourite chili recipe
  • Add tofu to a vegetable stir fry
  • Spread peanut butter on whole grain crackers with apple slices on the side
  • Sprinkle a combination of walnuts, almonds and flaxseeds on a yogurt smoothie
  • Try carrot sticks dipped hummus

Try these other kid-friendly vegetarian options.

You may also be interested in:

Picky eating: 10 fun tips to get kids to try new foods
ay Goodbye to Picky Eating!

Last Update – June 12, 2018

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