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How can you gently deal with a toddler’s picky eating habits?

I have a 33 month old son that is an extraordinarily picky eater. He is in the beige stage (chicken, breads, crackers, etc.) and will sometimes tolerate yogurt and fruit. I always offer a broad selection at meal time and place healthy snacks out between meals that he adamantly refuses. The bits of advice that seem to keep popping up amongst our very traditional minded circle of fellow parents are “when he’s hungry he’ll eat.”, “Send him to bed once with an empty stomach and he’ll eat from that point on”, and “force a bite into his mouth”. Obviously, none of these options are acceptable at all to us. Does anyone have tips or tricks to get that first important “hey, this stuff is pretty tasty” bite in? I have no qualms about him refusing a food he truly doesn’t care for, but it’s important that he broadens the palate a bit.



Paige Lucas-Stannard is a Parenting Educator and Founder of Parenting Gently where she offers parenting classes and coaching to progressive parents. She’s a former NASA research librarian happy to be home raising her 3 IVF babies after nearly a decade of infertility. She likes to cook and sew and has, in general, become her mother. Happily. Follow her on Twitter @parentinggently



  • Shannon@TheArtfulMam

    What I've done with my son is to make a salad/casserole/pasta style meal. I mix everything together in one bowl or plate and then allow him to eat what he wants from that. He made decide to continue being picky and take only what he wants from the bowl but the food typically stick to each other and then it provides for that opportunity that "hey, this isn't so bad!" Also I time my meals around sleep patterns ie we don't eat within an hour before a nap or bedtime. He needs to wind down so he is not open to the idea of food then. But I do follow the he'll eat when he is ready thought pattern but I don't send him to bed hungry either. I've found that the more we pressure our children to eat the less they are likely to eat. I hope this helps. Just be open and listen to your child's needs and wants.

  • randikun

    My sister let my nephew graze from a few plates placed throughout the house for a while when he was doing this. She put some new things on the plate every once in a while and he eventually started eating those, too. Also, she let him eat "whatever he wanted" in that if he wanted to put cottage cheese on his pancake- fine, go for it. If he poured his milk in his applesauce and drank it up- super duper, as long as it's getting in there.

  • HybridRastaMama

    I wrote an entire post about this! I think that you will find the information useful and practical. We ALL struggle with toddler eating at some point and it can be so frustrating. I do hope this helps you!http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/tackling-toddler-eating/

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