Feeding a Picky Eater

Be creative, stay patient and calm, and continue to offer new foods

Why is your child refusing to eat foods or eating less?

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  • How they are feeling – they may be tired or stressed

  • Distractions – they would rather play or watch TV

  • Pressure – if a child feels pressured to eat something, they will not eat it

  • Taste – some children have a sensitivity to taste, smell, shape and texture

  • Fear – some children are fearful to try new things

  • Drinking too much – some children fill up on milk or water

Work on building healthy habits!

  1. Offer a variety of foods
    - Integrate finger foods into their meals such as sandwiches or cut up vegetables
    - Offer a new food in combination with familiar foods when your child is hungry
    - Offer new foods regularly starting with a small amount
    - Don’t feel discouraged: It may take up to 15 times for your child to like a food!
    - Make food interesting and fun by using different shapes, textures and colours

  2. Make a routine
    - Having a regular meal and snack time helps children. It leaves space between eating to allow your child to build an appetite
    - Offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily in child-sized portions with child-sized cups, plates, and utensils
    - Limit sweets and snack foods such as candy and chips
    - Limit sweet beverages such as juice
    - Limit milk to no more than 3 cups each day as it can replace other foods
    - Offer water to satisfy thirst in between meals

  3. Make meals fun!
    - Eat meals as a family
    - Be a good role model – eat well as a parent, and eat a variety of foods
    - Encourage all family members to eat healthy
    - Avoid distractions during meal times by turning off the TV
    - Let your child leave the table if they are full – they don’t like to sit for too long
    - Let your child help you when you plan and prepare meals

  4. Give your child a choice
    - Parents get to make a lot of decisions during meal time.
    - Parents decide which foods to offer, when to offer them, and where everyone will eat
    - Let your child decide how much they want to eat and respect their decision if they want to refuse


City of Toronto. (2018). Feeding your child. Retrieved from http://www.toronto.ca/community-people/children-parenting/pregnancy-and-parenting/parenting/feeding-your-child