Return to site

Top Five Quick Strategies for
Picky Eaters

Does your child's picky or restrictive eating have you stressed out about meal times?
Here are some quick strategies from our feeding specialist, Mary Allyse Metzger, to help bring peace (and more eating) back to the dinner table.
1. Set your child up for success. Place a small demand your child is likely to comply with at first. Praise them for sitting down, beginning to eat or using a utensil.  With a new food they are reluctant to try, set a clear limit that they must eat (taste, touch, smell, lick) 2 or 3 small bites of that food, instead of a whole plate of it.
2. Avoid negotiations. Set clear limits and stick to them. Picking one battle and being consistent is more effective than trying to change multiple issues at once. Remain in control of the situation. If you begin to feel frustrated, stop (walk away), take a breath, count to 3 and return. 
3. Praise what you want to see more of. Praise any behavior that is close to what you want to see (eg., picking up the spoon, tasting the food, taking their bite). Ignore behaviors you do not want to see (eg., crying, throwing food or toys, tantrum behaviors). What you provide attention to you will see more of.
4. Encourage exploration. Do the opposite of what our parent's taught us and let your child play with their food! Touching, smelling, squishing, touching to lips (kissing), and inclusion in cooking activities can all lead to your child being more open to trying new things. This is especially helpful with sensory issues.
5. Implement a 'last bite' rule. Your child is highly motivated to get up from the table and get back to playing. Set a limit that they must take 'one last bite' before they can get up. Use this consistently and celebrate their success with taking a last bite!
Want to learn more strategies or how to individualize these for the needs of your child?
Join our Parent Support Group for Picky Eaters which starts on October 14th and runs for 8 weeks.  Space is limited, call (215-275-8710) or email ( today!