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Picky Eaters

Nutrition can vary greatly depending on your child’s age, weight, gender, etc.  If you are concerned about your child’s weight or eating habits consult your pediatrician for advice.

What can I do to help?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend the following tips when combating picky eaters:

  • Be Patient, “If first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.  Studies show that it can take between 10-15 tastes of one particular food before a child accepts and/or likes that particular food.  Do not take “no” as a rejection, you are making progress by just exposing your child to that new taste.
  • Be a good role model for them.  Children may want to eat whatever their parents are eating.
  • Offer your child choices such as, “Would you like carrots or broccoli for dinner”?
  • Have your child help you prepare food while you are cooking in the kitchen, that way they are exposed to the colors and textures of different foods.
  • Do not force your child to over eat by making them clean their plate.
  • Avoid using dessert as a bribe or a reward for eating their meal.
  • Consistency in the choice of foods and your expectations need to be conveyed to the child.
  • Away from home does not have to be a different story.  Once your child knows and understands what is expected of him or her and their eating habits, they are more likely to make healthy choices away from home.
  • Get off the couch and get active!

Foods that are high in nutrition:

  • Good Sources of Protein:
    • Lean Meat
    • Eggs
    • Nuts
    • Fish
    • Beans
  • Good Sources of Fiber:
    • Whole grain crackers
    • Whole grain bread
    • Whole grain pasta
    • Whole grain cereal
  • Dairy:
    • Low-fat milk
    • Yogurt/ frozen yogurt
    • Cheese/ string cheese/ cottage cheese
  • Vegetables:
    • Asparagus
    • Beets
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Cauliflower
    • Cucumbers
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes
    • Pumpkin
    • Squash
    • Zucchini
  • Fruit:
    • Apples/ appplesauce
    • Apricots
    • Bananas
    • Berries
    • Grapefruit
    • Kiwi
    • Oranges
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    •  Watermelon

Keep fresh fruit and vegetables out and ready to eat for fast, healthy, on the go snacks!  Give your child low-fat milk and water instead of drinks high in sugar such as soda and juice.

How Do I know my child is getting enough to eat?

Children usually stop eating when they are full.  According to the AAP some parents worry because their child seems to be eating very small portions of food especially compared to adult portions.  However, a child sized portion is one-fourth to one-third the size of an adult’s portion, or one tablespoon of each food for each year of a child’s age.  When in doubt the AAP recommends to give less than what you think the child will eat; if the child is still hungry and wants some more they will ask.  Make sure no food group is completely left out for a prolonged period of time, as this could result in your child not getting enough of the nutrients that he or she needs.