Is your little one resistant of new foods, or won’t eat what you offer? You’re not alone. There are so many families that suffer picky eaters. There are two types of ‘picky eaters’, typical toddler pickiness and those that have feeding disorders. Feeding disorders should be addressed with your pediatrician or therapist. For typical toddler pickiness, here are a few ideas of how to help with a picky eater and help your child enjoy food more and be open to trying new things.

11 Tips and Tricks to Help With Picky Eaters

1. If you haven’t already started solids, introduce veggies first

If you introduce vegetables first, they say that baby may be more accepting of other foods if they start liking vegetables first. You can mix purees into breastmilk or formula at first. or serve them as purees with water. If this doesn’t work, you can try blends of veggies and fruit. Try pureed spinach and apples, or kale and pear, or banana avocado. 

2. Seasonings

Baby doesn’t like their mashed potatoes or carrot puree? You can try to season them. While some babies don’t like herbs and spices, others may love it. If you struggle to get your little one to eat bland foods, try tossing in some spice. Dill weed is one that tends to be popular with babies. Other ideas are cinnamon in carrots, apples, or even sweet potatoes. Rosemary or oregano are also good spices to try. Curries can also be helpful – lentil curries are a great first, it’s very common in India to feed them to baby as they are very soupy.

Baby eating, baby led weaning foods
3. Let baby feed themselves

As babies get older, they typically like to feed themselves as opposed to being fed. Put on a bib, strip them down, or embrace the chaos and let them play with their food. It’s known to help babies start to embrace textures if they can explore foods with their hands. Give them small pieces and a spoon to play with. It’ll be messy but baby will have fun and it’s all part of the learning process.

When letting baby feed themselves, it also helps them develop fine-motor skills. This is essential for further physical development down the road. Not only that but coordination is also developed. If baby can find their mouth with their hand, that is a giant leap in hand-eye coordination.

4. Use fun shapes and colors

There is a thought that babies enjoy food of different colors and shapes. Use different shapes when serving little ones different vegetables or use a mixture of different colored foods (red pepper, corn, peas, meat) to entice them. 

5. Make sure you are positive with your interaction to food

There is correlation with how you react to food and how your little one does, usually it is most related to mom. Try to make mealtime fun and stress-free. If you are anxious about meals, your baby probably will be too. Calm and accepting atmospheres promote baby to relax and have fun.

6. Limit junk-food and processed foods 

One trick for help with picky eaters is to limit their intake of junk foods, snacks, or processed foods. If you are giving your child snack foods with added sugar, salt, and fat, it’s no wonder they don’t want home-cooked dinners. Instead of offering salty puffs, sweet yogurt snacks, or fruit snacks, try offering fruit and vegetables (age appropriately). Whether it be some applesauce, mashed peas, carrots and hummus

7. Let baby eat what you eat

There tends to be this habit of making separate meals to appease all members of the house. Whether it be something separate for the toddler and other kids, or just a separate baby meal, it gets to be a lot. If you have everyone eat one thing, baby sees you eating it, and they are more likely to try it. Cut it up small or mash it so it’s safe for them to eat, but if they see you eating vibrant colors, they’re more likely to try them too.

8. Don’t stress about how much they eat

Babies really don’t need to eat much for solids at a time. They say about 1 tablespoon equals a serving for a one-year old. This increases by a tablespoon per year of age. So by age two, aim to have little one eating about 2 tablespoons of beans or one ounce of meat, 1-2 tablespoons of vegetables, 1-2 tablespoons of fruit, and 1-2 tablespoons of grains (or about 1/4 piece of bread). If you are concerned about your child’s weight gain or eating habits, consult your doctor. 

Baby activities finger painting
9. Try to introduce foods more than once

If you give your child something and they resist it the first time, don’t give up. New textures, flavors, and colors can be intimidating and take time to accept. Try offering it again (it can take up to 20 times to start accepting new foods). 

10. Get messy

Not only with food, but let baby get messy. When they are learning and being introduced to new textures and sensory on their own, they are more accepting of these things when eating. Not only that but it can lead to less problem with sensory disorders later in life. 

11. If it’s not something baby can’t eat, try not to eat it in front of them

This is hard, but that ice cream bar that you are having after dinner really shouldn’t be around baby. If baby sees you eating something like that but not offering it to them, they are more likely to form tendencies toward those foods as they mature. You need to be a role model for your little one.

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This list of help for picky eaters is a guide for those of you with children that fight eating and are very preferential to certain things. If you have concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor as there may be other health related issues. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you found helpful in the comments below!