5 Tips for a Picky Eater

Many parents dread those terrible twos... sometimes those terrible two also carry over into the threes and fours. The toddler years can be challenging for parents, trying to establish boundaries, teaching proper manners, and correcting bad habits or behavior. It may feel like a never-ending battle between you and your tiny tot.

One of the battles many parents who come to Infant Crisis Services lament about is their toddler's picky eating habits. We've had many mothers desperately express "He just won't eat anything I give him!" "She won't touch her vegetables!"

If you've been there, you understand.

While we don't claim to be nutritionists, we are somewhat experienced when it comes to babies and toddlers.

So in honor of National Toddler Month, here are 5 tips we like to give parents when dealing with your protesting picky eater.

1) Start early. This one may come a little too late if you're child is already out of the infant stage. But it's an import step in preventing the picky eating behavior. When first introducing your child to baby food and solid foods, think vegetables first. Let them develop a liking to vegetables before introducing sweeter fruits and food varieties. So instead of starting with mashed bananas or other sweet fruits, introduce them to peas, green beans, carrots and sweet potatoes.

2) Present foods in new ways. If your toddler won't touch raw carrots, try steaming them. If celery is a no go, try putting peanut butter and raisins on top (ants on a log). Get creative and present the foods in a way your toddler might find appealing.

3) Give food fun names. This one may sound silly, but it may just be silly enough to work. To a picky toddler who doesn't want to touch any green food, broccoli probably sounds like the worst word in the world. But if you call it tasty tree tops your curious little one might just take a bite. Kiwi can become fuzzy fun food. Once again, creativity is key here.

4) Involve your child in picking out and prepping the food. Let your child have a say in what produce you buy at the grocery store. Then get him a step stool and let him lend a hand in the kitchen. If he helps prepare it, your mini chef might be more willing to taste his creation. 

5) Don't give up. I know it seems easier to give in, surrender to your tiny opponent and hand over the Cheetos, but don't. Keep trying. It's in your toddlers best nutritional interest. Plus, you want to establish healthy eating habits while they're young, so they grow up to snack on celery instead of ice cream.