Picky Eating

Most young children are “picky” about food. All foods are new to a child. Some children will accept a new food the first time it is offered and others may need more time.

Did you know?

A child may need to be offered a food 20 times or more before he/she learns to eat it! This includes seeing a food, watching you eat, touching or tasting a food and even spitting it out.

Keep in mind that children may eat a food one day and refuse it the next time it is offered; they may eat a lot one day and little the next; or they may not eat every food at a meal, but only one or two foods.

Pressure backfires! Forcing, bribing, lecturing, coaxing, rewarding or playing games to get your child to eat will not help him/her learn to enjoy a variety of foods. Relax and let your child learn to eat in his/her own time.

Things you can do to help your child develop healthy eating habits:

  • Learn about your “job” and your child’s “job” in feeding.     
  • Establish a routine of family meals and sit-down snacks.  
  • Offer a variety of healthy foods at meals and snacks and let your child decide to eat from what is offered.   
  • Your child needs opportunities to learn to try new foods.  Don’t limit the menu to food your child readily accepts or prepare a separate meal for your child.
  • When offering a new food, start with a small amount and serve it along with a familiar food. Don’t pressure your child to try the new food; let him/her decide whether to eat it.
  • Enjoy eating with your child. Don’t focus the conversation on what your child is eating or not eating or how much.
  • Trust that your child will eat the amount of food that is right for him/her. 
  • Be a good role model.

Services related to this information:

811 NL HealthLine/Dial-a-Dietitian (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555


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Last updated: 2020-06-30