Let’s Talk Picky Eating

Hey there my friends. This idea box topic is such a hot-button issue! When you have a child who is picky, meal times can be so stressful!

I remember growing up my parents had a rule that we had to eat whatever number bites we were age for the items we didn’t like. My sister Emily HATED raw carrots. She detested them! She loathed them! And every dinner she would be required to eat 4 bites if she was 4, or 5 bites if she was 5, and so on. I have a vivid memory of her sitting next to me at the table, taking her quota bites of raw carrot, asking to be excused before swallowing, and going to the bathroom where she spit it out and FLUSHED the carrots. She just could not stomach the texture!

I have personally struggled with my oldest who is such a picky eater. He doesn’t like to try anything new, is very resistant to vegetables, and has just a few things that he really likes. He would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day, every day – but he refuses to eat vegetables. This has been hard on me because I know how much he needs the fiber and minerals that are in them!

For a long time we were struggling and pushing and our dinners were pretty upsetting. I was researching online and found this article that really turned things around for me – and I’ve never looked back.

Pardon the language at the beginning but the principles explained are so helpful: Six Words That Will End Picky Eating. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here is the strategy in a nutshell – the strategy that has made all the difference in our home.

  1. Make a well rounded meal with at least one item I know he will eat.
  2. Serve up a plate for him with some of everything on the plate – even items I know he hates or has never tried.
  3. If he protests or says “yuck” about anything in the meal, say calmly and without emotion “You don’t have to eat it”.
  4. Allow him to eat the items he likes until either he has had his share or it is gone.
  5. Tuck in and eat my own dinner!

The phrase that has made all the difference is “You don’t have to eat it” – in other words – I have stopped forcing and pushing him, and allow him to chose what he is going to eat. The catch is that I chose what I’m going to cook for dinner, I make sure at least one thing on the plate is something he will eat, and all the other items are ones that I want him to eat because they’re good for him. Then he can chose what to fill up on. While I on the other hand dig in and eat everything, showing by example that it is delicious!

This strategy has done two things for us. First, it has made dinner times calm and zero stress, and second over time it has shown me that he WILL try vegetables – but when he is ready. It was such a triumph this year when he ate raw carrots, and sliced red bell pepper! WAHOO! All without any bribes or tricks on my part.

What do you guys think about this strategy? Do you think it could work for you? Check out these other tips from other moms who know! Thanks to our readers for submitting their ideas!


We have really struggled with this with our oldest. We have had the rule the you have to try a few bites the fist couple times we have a new food. Also if they want seconds of a certain meal for example pizza, they have to eat some veggies first. -Mary M.


When my kids don’t like something I don’t force them to eat it. Next time I’ll make it a different way and have them try it again. This has helped my kids a lot. I think it’s important to remember that kids are like adults. They like some things and not others. And sometimes you never like something and that’s ok too. -Stephanie S.


The only advice I can give is to eat the vegetables on my plate and make it look very delicious until they demand to try it. Haha. It worked for my little girl at least. But she’s not 2 yet, so we’ll see if that method sticks. -Kristina B.


We are working on this issue with our #3 child. The older two eat a big variety so we aren’t sure what happened with #3. One thing I think helps is not to label them. Encourage adventurous eating, and don’t let them hear you telling other people they are picky. -Karen M.

What other strategies have worked for you with your picky eaters? Let’s talk picky eating! Can’t wait to hear your ideas in the comments!