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life + work + parenthood + COMMUNITY

  • Writer's pictureJill Devine

Tips For Picky Eaters

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

When I posted the following Instagram post, I received a lot of responses and feedback:

I wanted to share Victoria Nieveen's feedback because she's a Functional Nutrition dietitian who specializes in women’s health, but she used to work with kids. I met Victoria through my church and then she joined me on my podcast, Two Kids and A Career. She was featured in Episode 109: How Her Fertility Struggles Can Help You.

Here's what she has to offer:

Just a tip to start—Provide only one new food with 2 preferred foods (too many new foods can be overwhelming). You may want to give less of preferred foods to offer room/greater appetite to try a new food.

1. New Food list: when the child tries a new food, or new form of a food, they get to add the name of the food to a list they can make/decorate, and hang on the fridge or have with them at the table. After a week or two weeks, if they filled the list, they get a non food reward (new book, small toy, movie night, trip to the park, time with mom/dad, etc. doesn’t have to cost money haha). We often use their age as a guideline for how many to try before they get a reward. So 3 for your 3 yo by the end of the week/two weeks, but your 5 yo would need to complete 5. If that’s too easy, you can always raise it. You can also use a sticker system instead of the food name. And depending on the child, you can determine what counts as a “try.” It can be one bite equals a sticker and then if the eat 3 bites or finish the serving they get a second sticker. Or sometimes with older kids, 2 bites counts as a try from the beginning. When it comes to new foods, ideally it would be a new vegetable, fruit, or meat. The same food can count as two lines or two sticker opportunities if prepared differently (ex. Raw carrot then next time a cooked carrot with cheese).

2. Provide Options within your Boundaries—you can say, we are trying a new veggie today, would you like to try a carrot or broccoli. Or you can say, we are trying broccoli today, would you like it cooked with cheese or would you like to dip it in ranch.

3. Let them go to the store and pick one food out to try (letting them pick too many may cause food waste if they change their minds later). Let them help in the kitchen doing age appropriate skills (stirring, mixing, spreading, kid chopping tools, etc). Kids are more likely to try something they made themselves because they will be curious. They can also help serve themselves.

4. Make food fun—cut out favorite characters and tape to toothpicks that you can place into foods. Make faces out of foods or use fun cookie cutters (they sell mini ones small enough for fruits and some veggies).

5. Place a phone in front of them in selfie mode so they can watch themselves eat the food.

6. They can earn more bites of preferred foods if they try a bite of the new food—somewhat a bribe but not to the extent of saying “you don’t get a dessert unless you try it.” The idea is to not make one food (usually treats) more desirable by using them as a reward or bribe.

Instagram accounts that are helpful too:


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