“Oh, No, Not Dinner!” Creative ways we get our picky eaters to eat

“Oh, no, not dinner!!!” I can’t tell you how many times a week I here this very phrase.

Ahhh!!!! The dreaded mealtime with the PICKY EATER!

It can be nothing short of TORTUROUS!

For some kids picky eating is a phase and for others it is a way of life. I grew up a very picky eater (I still am to a certain extent), and, as punishment, I had a child who is also quite picky.

Doctors will tell you all the time, “Don’t worry, you’re kid is not going to let himself starve.” Well, that may very well be the case. However, while he won’t starve, that doesn’t mean he is being properly nourished. When Big Brother started eating table foods it all went downhill from there. He’d eat cheese, yogurt, fruit, peas, and berries; but give him broccoli, beans, meat, or bread and you’d have thought we’d given him poison. –He’s a very dramatic child– And don’t even get me started about what happened when we started feeding him the dinner that The Husband and I ate.

I have to say, though, that at almost 4 1/2 not only does Big Brother eat a well balanced diet, but he will also sit down at the dinner table and eat at least a little of what we’re eating.

So, what’s the trick to getting even the pickiest of eaters to try things???

Well, everyone has got a weakness. (insert sinister smile)

Big Brother’s weakness? Superheroes. Everyone in his family knows it, and we, his parents, capitalized on it.

The foods he rejected suddenly all had super powers. If he ate these super foods he would grow STRONG MUSCLES like Superman and be able to RUN SUPER FAST like Dash from The Incredibles. His “broccoli trees” have special vitamins that give him super strong bones, make his brain really smart, and give him super vision. His meat had protein to give him big muscles like all his favorite superheros. After dinner he’d show off his “bulging biceps” by picking up small pieces of furniture and then do laps through the house showing off the new powers he had courtesy of his super food.

I’ve really been quite surprised at how long the “super food” tactic has worked for. We’ve been using this for over two years now, and it still works like a charm.

Most families have at least one picky eater so let’s have it. What do you do to move mountains…err…I mean, to get your picky eater to eat?

 

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About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

My name is Amy. I'm a mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. I'm an Air Force wife currently living in Bossier City, Louisiana. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for me to share parenting and product advice with others. I have a lot share, but I'm no loud mouth. My blog is my way to be heard. Come join me at Oh So Savvy Mom, learn about new products, pick up some parenting tips and tricks, and have a good time.

Comments

  1. We “hide” the veggies Dottie doesn’t like in our pasta sauce and the fruit in her smoothies. She loves both so downs them without any struggles ;)
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  2. So glad I’m out of this phase of parenting. Lol…they’d eat the pantry door if I ever ran out of food in my house.
    I do recall the battle though.
    My bio-kids are foodies like me, eating has never been an issue. My step son on the other hand was affraid of anything that didn’t have nugget in the name.
    I wanted him to experience joys of diversity in menu planning. I made him a passport book that he drew pictures of the new foods he tried. For every 10 new items without issue he got to pick dinner. He wasn’t allowed to say that he didn’t like something before trying it or that item didn’t count in the tally. He quit using the book on his own and has eaten me out of house and home since :)
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    • LOL, that is awesome. What is it about kids and “nuggets”? My kids do the same thing! I heard another blogger say that the cure to picky eating is puberty. Once they his puberty they’re so hungry they’ll eat anything!

  3. Oh my! We have a constant rule at home, no matter what age you are, you have to eat a little of everything on the table, and if you are pst two you have to eat everything on you plate if you dished it and everything mom or dad gave you unless we weren’t paying attention and dished too much. With the little ones we have a disappearing fingers game. You hold up 5 fingers and,being over dramatic,a finger disappears with every bite they take until you are completely distraught that you have no fingers left.

  4. I think the best thing to do is TRY not to make eating a big deal. I’ve seen mom’s who say to their kids before the plates are even on the table, “You are going to eat some of the carrots whether you want to or not.” The kid is already thinking, “Well I must hate carrots if mom has to use a disclaimer like that!”

    I know it isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, but if you attempt to set high expectations (everyone eats what the family eats, sits at the table until everyone is done, and doesn’t make any rude comments about dinner) from the beginning, maybe your child will be less likely to resist foods.

    However, this is coming from the perspective of a Child Development teacher. I only have 6 month old twins right now, and they haven’t refused my multiple attempts at cooking them beets!

  5. Squire thinks that if parents lead by example, most of the time kids will eventually follow. Though, I think there are times when it becomes an issue of control and you have to fight it. I will illustrate what I mean through this “legendary” story of my childhood:

    My mom was frustrated and worried because I would never eat my veggies. So, one night I came to the table ready to eat and everyone’s plate was served up with the bread, meat, rice, and veggies. But, my plate had ONLY had veggies on it! My mom invited me to eat the veggies on my plate and when they were gone she said I could eat some of the other things at the table. My mom said I threw a huge fit in response. She calmly told me, “When you are ready to be happy and nice at the dinner table, you can join us again.” I went to the other room and screamed and cried for a while. A few minutes later I came out, wiping the tears from my face, ready to sit with the family at the table. I ate a bite of the broccoli and said, “Mmmm. This is good, Mommy.”

    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter – but other times (and I leave it to each mother to discern which times are those “other” times), this issue of food is a battle you just can’t lose. That’s how my mom won the battle with me. I hope it helps! :)
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  6. We have to pretend like the girls are dogs and feed them their bones!
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  7. I’m not a mom yet, but I will remember this great advice!!

  8. I find that by limiting my kids’ sugar and cracker intake, they jump more readily at meals. And a piece of whole-wheat bread has a whole lot more going for it than a cheese cracker. But then, I’m kinda the granola type anyhow.

  9. We sort of do the same superhero thing you do. She’s always wanted to be healthy and strong and every morning like clockwork asks for her vitamin. So feeding off of that, we remind our 4-year-old that (insert yucky food here) has lots of healthy vitamins to make her healthy and strong. We also don’t want to force her to eat food, so instead we tell her that she has to try everything at least once to see if she likes it. If she doesn’t like it, then she doesn’t have to take another bite, but at least she’s tried it. She may still be a slow picky eater, but now she tries everything on her plate, and gets a rounded diet of healthy and yummy foods.
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  10. Thankfully my daughter isn’t too picky! Hiding veggies helps me though :)
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  11. My 7 year old is getting a lot better about what he’ll eat and my 5 year old is better than she used to be. But my little Emma is a total picky eater and the thing is I can’t say you don’t get this unless you eat this (which usually works for the others……gotta love bribery……er rewards right :)) cause she doesn’t understand. I even bought her pediasure which is fairly yummy and she won’t drink it. I’ll just have to wait till she’s older and use the above mentioned rewards :) The superhero thing works sometimes and my kids have really wild imaginations so if they’re pretending to be something like an animal…it’ll be said animal food which works sometimes too. Sauce is another great thing too. Ranch seems to make everything taste better. I could probably never get my son to eat brocolli without ranch.
    Hope all is going well for you guys!

  12. In my family you have to try everything on your plate. Not once, daily. If you don’t like it you have to say why? This way we switch up the way we prepare the food, to see if you just flat out dislike it or don’t like the flavor. Usually after trying different seasonings, sauces, grilling, frying, etc., our picky eater cleans his or her plate.
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  13. My problem is pretty much the opposite. My 22 month old loves veggies and when he was a baby he would only eat the vegetable baby food and not the fruits. His motto is if it’s not green or a pasta he’s not interested. I’m trying to make different things to peak his interest in other foods. So, far it hasn’t really worked yet. I guess I should be thankful.

  14. I am stealing this from my friend’s blog, since she just posted it today – she tells her 2 year old son that the plate in front of him is actually his dad’s and being a kid, he thinks it’s funny to eat what “isn’t” his and tease his dads, and then usually ends up liking it! (her blog post is at kenandkelsey.blogspot.com/2011/09/our-best-parenting-trick-yet.html)

    I have 17 month old twins and they aren’t too picky yet. I feel like it just goes in phases. I never make them eat everything on their plate, but keep offering healthy options for them. So far so good. Some days they love green beans or peas and other days not, but at least they are still getting their nutrition.
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  15. I love the passport idea! Unfortunately, I can’t contribute much yet. I’m hoping my little guy will take after his momma and like to eat pretty much anything!

  16. We’ve tried everything, hiding food, bribing, ordering, encouraging…I think it helps not to make a big deal out of it, to offer many healthy options and encourage kids to try new things, in whatever way will help. Turning it into a power struggle makes for miserable mealtimes. The main thing that seems to be working for us is consistent but reasonable dinner rules and time. When they grow up, they eat more.

  17. Sharolyn Thayer says:

    Such a great post, Amy! I can picture Max lifting furniture and running around with his super speed. Very cute! Persistence, I think is key! I remember you working with Max, sitting beside him at mealtime, helping him finish his food. You’ve been very persistent with him. And never stop offering new things. I remember a doctor telling me once that a kid needs to see a food 15 times before they’ll try it. Picky eaters may need to see it 115 times? Almost dinner time … I better get my dinner ready. Wish me luck!

  18. Oh my gosh, wish I would’ve had this when my boys were younger. They are the pickiest kids EVER! Have yet to find anything that helps them to eat or at least try something new. They can now try to reason with me when it comes to what they’re eating (or not!)
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  19. Since my children don’t eat veggies and hardly any fruit I give them V8 fusion juice. I know it doesn’t hold a candle to real fruit and veggies, but at least it’s somewhat nutritious right??

  20. So funny, I am a pick eater and my son is also a picky eater, guess that’s my punishment too!!!

  21. My solution is pretty simple as my 19 month old twins are decent eaters. If they are being difficult, I will offer something they love on the spoon with something they don’t love as much. Or if they refuse to try it, I touch their lips with the spoon. They lick their lips and ask for more–almost every time!

  22. We’re not at the picky-eater stage yet, but I’ve been amazed at the usefulness of the airplane trick (making the fork make airplane–or train!–noises). A trick my parents always used with my littlest brother was: “Okay, you only have to take 200 more bites of _______.” My brother, would, of course, refuse. “Well, how about you take five more bites, then?” Much like bargain warehouse bulk prices make that $6.99 bag of chips seem like a steal, eating five bites seemed like nothing by comparison to 200. He fell for it every time. :)
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  23. I’ve done what some of the above posters have mentioned — hiding the veggies! I make a “Sneaky Mac N Cheesy” where I peel, then shred some zucchini, mix it into a thick cheese mixture, and bake it over pasta. No one knew!

  24. LOVE the superhero idea! Gosh I don’t have any good tricks. I keep meaning to buy that Sneaky Chef book. Ha!
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  25. Sara Gardner says:

    Mason used to be a pretty bad picky eater, now he’s somewhat picky—which is a great improvement! What worked for us is to limit his milk intake. He drank a lot of milk and never wanted to eat much. Now I limit his milk and now he eats cause he’s starving!

    Also, I tell Mason when I am about to give him something new: ” just try it Mase and if you truly don’t like it, then you don’t have to eat it”. This helps him have a feeling of control over what he eats. Thus, minimizing the power struggles during dinner. It’s really helped in many ways because this one acknowledgement of his wishes goes a long way when I’m asking him to do other things.

  26. Well – my daughter was pretty easy – although she did go thru a few difficult phases, NOTHING compared to my almost 3 year old son. One week he LOVES meat the next week he can’t stand it. One week he drinks milk like it’s going out of style, the next week he gags. He has a VERY sensitive GAG reflex and we struggle with his eating habits – BIG TIME!
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  27. you are nicer then me- i don’t give them the choice! LOL
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  28. Long time reader, first time commenter. I knew this kid that was a picky eater. He liked eating raw hot dogs, but he would pick all the pepperonis and vegetables off his pizza. And he hated hard-boiled eggs too. His parents pretty much let him eat as he pleased. Except the hard-boiled eggs. His mom made him eat egg salad sandwiches. Nasty. Something happened in his adolescent years, because he eats almost anything now, and likes it. The raw hot dog eating just wore off. He decided one day he liked them better cooked. He just got tired of pulling off the pizza toppings and one day tried them (it was just too much work), and he actually liked them. But the hard-boiled eggs he still detests. He can’t eat them without wanting to puke. I think it is just a bad memory of his mom forcing him to eat them while he was gagging.
    On a scientific note, what a parent may be tasting and what a child is tasting may not be the same–even though they are eating the same dinner. Research shows, that children have more normal taste buds, and adults have more degenerative taste buds. So the strong tastes of bitter and other abnormal flavors may be more mild to adults. Children may be more sensitive to these strong flavors. Here is some proof: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=tastebuds%20kids%20taste The information is just in the abstract, it’s old information.

  29. I am going to try some of these tricks with my 5 year old – he’s my picky eater… the problem is complicated by Autism and SPD so I have an uphill battle… but I know I’ll win eventually
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  30. Hi! I don’t have a kid yet, so I can’t really share as to what I do…BUT we’re currently expecting our first (Due in TWO WEEKS!) so I can tell you what my plan is :) Our plan is to make a strong effort to introduce a wide variety of foods..I know a lot of parents that don’t necessarily feed their kids foods that they themselves don’t like. My husband and I have already vowed to make ourselves eat even what we don’t like – just to encourage our son not to be picky. We’ll see how well it works!!!

  31. Heather Baker says:

    I just don’t care. When Rex won’t eat something, I act like it’s nothing–want cookies for lunch, fine, doesn’t matter to me but all the cool kids eat bananas or whatever else it is I’d rather him eat. Peer pressure goes a long way. And I honestly just don’t care. I don’t keep a lot of junk food around so it’s hard for Rex to not eat more nutritious food because it’s that or starve.

  32. We’ve been very blessed to have three pretty good eaters. They have each gone through phases, but we’ve come out the other side okay. We tend not to allow many choices at dinner time. There is some flexibility for breakfast and lunch. I like to allow them to help me shop and fix meals too – even if it’s just watching. It seems to get them more excited. Also, try try again. I probably made asparagus half a dozen times before my daughter ate a piece, but I always put a couple of spears on her plate. It was probably another half dozen times before she decided that she liked it. Now every time I make it she proudly proclaims “Mommy, I love ‘sparagus!”
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  33. I know bribes aren’t the best trick, but honestly it works. I’ll tell my 20 month old if she eats a piece of meat or something then I’ll give her a grape. As long as we have a lot of grapes that seems to do the trick. Another thing we started doing that’s really helped too is saying thank you anytime she picks up a food she doesn’t eat or takes a bite of it. We clap for her and cheer for her and thank her for even picking it up and then she just eats the rest of the food that she normally wouldn’t eat. We’re pretty lucky in that regard!

  34. I just keep trying the food. If she does not like it one day, she might like it the next. I started early with a variety of foods and I try to give her what I am eating. It does not always work, I don’t want dinner to be a struggle either.

  35. I’m really grateful for your post and all the responses! My 15-month-old will only eat dairy. She loves milk, yogurt, and cheese, but spits everything else out. I put 100% juice in her milk, but I never thought of V8 fusion juice. Or introducing a food 15 times!

  36. Some of our kids liked the choo-choo train technique (“Here comes the train! Eat it!”) though we had to vary the setting with some more modern and/or exciting hardware (“Here comes the Super Fast Jet!”)

  37. I think your idea is very fun and creative. I start my picky eating prevention when they are very small, around one year old. My first was very picky to begin with. He wouldn’t try anything new. I started giving him little five to ten second time-outs (usually took 5 or 6 little time-outs) to get him to take a bite of his food. With only a few meals of trying this tactic, he started eating his food without a problem. He learned that he enjoys most foods. I’ve used the same tactic on my three kids that followed and mealtime is one of our favorite times of day. They are so great at eating a variety of dishes. I make a lot of Asian and middle-eastern dishes and spicy foods and they eat mostly every dish without complaint.

  38. well all of a sudden I am blessed, because my little girl, now picks with her fingers, salad from my salad bowl, now I just need to eat more salad, if I want her to eat more salad, ;)
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  39. For my picky eaters, we often have literature themed meals… My daughter gets to help plan the foods a favorite book character would eat (with lots of mom-suggestions) and the kids are willing to try new things!
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  40. Well, after reading a bunch of these comments I am realizing that my kids are actually very good eaters. The only thing we have ever had a problem with is that my 4.5 year old sometimes takes issue with foods that are even remotely spicy. While I do recognize that children’s taste buds are generally more sensitive than adults, we have noticed though that the issue usually comes up if she isn’t terribly hungry to begin with, or if she has already eaten some and is bored, so we have concluded it is mainly a form of attention getting. This has been difficult for us because we had struggled to find the right balance between letting her get away with it by paying it no attention (bad precedent), and giving her the attention she wants by sitting with her for hours coaching her through her ‘spicy’ food (also a bad precedent, and tediously frustrating). Her younger brother, however, has no problem with any foods of any kind and especially loves spicy food. We realized that by setting a ground rule of not leaving the table until everything is finished, and by praising little brother for eating and finishing his food, that our girl will eventually realize that she should just eat her food so she can go and play. Also, positive reinforcement once she actually finishes has been helping a lot too. So far so good!

  41. My oldest son was a joy when it came to eating. He was one of the few kids I knew that would try everything and loved veggies especially. He still does. My 4 yr old on the other hand has been living off od pretzels and chicken nuggets for the past 2 years. I don’t cave and make him anything seperate (which the pediatrician said was ok), so sometimes he just doesn’t eat. I figure that when he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat. I hope.
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  42. I agree with some of the other comments to not make eating a big deal however, you’ve got to set some firm rules. Somethings that has worked for us is, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. If our kids don’t want to eat what I made there’s no other options, including snacks, treats and desserts. If they start whinning and complaining that’s fine they just have to do it in other room (so they get NO attention) and then they can come back to the table when they are ready to join the family and eat. Usually, they will come back after a few minutes and try the food. When they do… Watch out! It’s a party! We praise them up and down and give them all sorts of positive attention. So far it has worked great and our kids are not very picky at all.

  43. I have found that the best way is to get my picky eater to eat is to let her help cook. By letting her help and asking if it needs “more salt” or does it need to simmer a little longer, and perhaps to help pick the perfect side dish. By letting her help not only does she eat previously banned foods, but we have fun in the process

  44. I don’t get kids. If it’ll make me feel less hungry, then I’ll have a go.

  45. My Inspired Space says:

    Thanks for stumbling…stumbling you back…I sure know about picky eaters….LOL….my son could live off of Chef Boy R D….LOLOL…thanks for the great comment…glad you enjoyed my post

  46. Tori has never been to picky of an eater , but on the days she is being picky, we have been telling her that what ever we are eating is a favorite food of someone she really likes.

  47. UGGGH! That is all I have to say about getting my kids to eat. Especially my boys. My husband does food process veggies and sneak them into the cheese of burritos and intp pizza sauce. Now my 4 yr old girl. She loves hummus and peppers and cucumbers. She begs for raw veggies!
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  48. If you’re looking for picky eaters we’ve got them here. I’ve tried to make one night a week be a night of whatever the kids want. One likes pizza and he thinks his sister’s favorite (mac and cheese) is totally gross. So we switch off. The key for us has been to just keep putting it on their plate. After a year my kids are finally eating salad and broccoli!

  49. All of you young moms are so smart and creative! I think I just waited it out. They all grew up, the picky ones and the gobblers. I never liked power struggles, tried to provide variety, things picked straight from the garden when possible. I’d sneak nutrient in whenever I could, ascorbic acid powder (Vitamin C) into the bread. Ah well! Good luck to everybody, from the picky eater’s Mimi.

  50. My niece eats pretty much nothing. I like your blog. I like you!

  51. Haha, I love it! I use those same tactics, it’s not working out that well with my son, but it worked wonders for my daughter. Every time she took a bite of something healthy she would run around the house as fast as she could just to prove that it was working :)
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  52. Great post and good luck with your entry! Your lil’ guy is adorable.

    My kids were never picky until they turned teens. I think the taste buds must change with puberty. It has been a tad crazy trying new stuff with picky teens. If I am making something new for dinner I make sure that I include sides that I know they will eat.

    Stop over and say HI! I’m just out blog hoppin’ today.

    Susie
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  53. Skyler likes a lot of health food so we don’t have a issue with this. He justdoesnt eat very much. To get him to eat all his food we use superheros or daddy as examples.

  54. This post is great! I have two boys; one who will eat just about everything and one who is incredibly picky. It is pretty exhausting come dinner time.. But I have a rule about what I fix for dinner is the only food they’re going to get that night. If my older son doesn’t eat than he has to wait until the morning. Sometimes this helps him try just a little bit more than he usually would… :)
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  55. My oldest is super picky, and very vocal about it. The downside? I mean besides the obvious battle with food at every meal…she says, “That’s yucky, Mom!” and guess who repeats it? That’s right! Little sister. So, instead of one picky eater, I now have two. We have a rule that you must try at least one bite, then Mom will negotiate a bit. But, my best tactic so far has been bringing out a few books. They get to pick the stories and then I read to them as they eat. They have to take one bite a page and I won’t turn the page until they both have a bite in their mouth. They get distracted with the story and don’t think so much about what is going in their mouth.

    • One other thing that works for my younger one is we have animal plates that I picked up at the dollar store. I don’t tell her which one she gets – she has to “find its face” by eating her food. Every bite is a hint!

  56. Luckily my kids have never been picky eaters, my husband is though! LOL!

    I’ve always hidden shredded veggies in certain dishes and I love using applesauce in my cakes instead of oil!

  57. This is an excellent blog! I wish it was around when my children were smaller. My youngest son, still does not like food to TOUCH on the plate! Oh the drama that has been around our table if the gravy slid into the meat.

    Again, love your blog.

    Julie
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  58. Well, I don’t have a picky eater of my own, but I have done quite a bit of babysitting. Sometimes I would have a bit of a race with the kids, saying that I bet I can finish this (insert food here, said with a little smirk) before they could take 3 more bites. Of course, with this you have to be careful that the child doesn’t stuff too much in their mouth at once or hurt themselves, but with most kids challenging them in the right tone of voice and with the proper amount of over-dramatization can accomplish a lot. I even got your picky eater to finish half his dinner with this one! ;-D

  59. liz thompson says:

    Great article!!! I have a couple picky eaters at home(-:

  60. michaela simmons says:

    My mom puts shredded cheese on my broccoli! LOL

  61. Way to go Amy! Good job with picky eaters!! :D

  62. My little one loves to eat except when it comes to food she is not familiar with. The issues are mostly with meat that doesn’t look like a McDonald’s chicken nugget. :) If she eats her meat she can have more of what she likes (such as potato salad or corn). Keeping it simple works best for us; if we get worked up then so does she, if we stay calm (yet firm) she is more likely to listen.

  63. Good advice, something for everyone!

  64. I have found that bribery/extortion works well! What’s better, if you have an older child that is looked up to by his/her siblings, you only have to bribe that child. We have forbidden our oldest from saying that any food we serve is “gross” or “yucky” with the condition that any food described as such will be given to him in a double serving. Conversely, if he is helpful and assists in convincing his sisters that a questionable food is in fact “yummy”, he receives thanks from us (quite often accompanied by a special dessert after the youngers go to bed). While this only works if you have children of various ages, we have found it a great way to get the little kids to eat all that healthy food they might otherwise struggle against.

  65. Hi Amy!
    Thanks for stopping in at my blog and leaving a comment on the Kid Friendly food and link up. Feel free to add this post as it has to do with food and then more people will read it!! Here is the link: http://cafescrapper-scrapsoflife.blogspot.com/2011/09/piccolini-rich-in-fiber-and-tasty-kid.html

    Have a great day!
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  66. Great post Amy! Love the superhero idea. Since my kids are grown, I’ll have to try this on my Granddaughter!

  67. I try to have a little something for dessert available but my kids can only have it if they try everything on their plate. The have ended up loving things they wouldn’t even try before.

  68. Lots of great advice! I think it’s so important that kids learn early to love good foods! We do lots of negotiating with our 3 year old and it usually works! I also like the idea of sneaking the good stuff inside something that appears to be more yummy (like a cookie). I say keep trying and they’ll hopefully grow out of it eventually!

  69. Thank you everyone for all the suggestions. I have a 3-year-old who would eat only cold cereal all day, every day if she could. I’ve heard that using treats as a reward for eating isn’t a good strategy but it’s all I can come up with these days! (It doesn’t help that I am pregnant, mildly nauseous all the time and don’t have a lot of energy for creative cooking). The good news is that my now 8-year-old was equally picky but now actually eats most of what we serve here. So there’s hope!!

  70. This actually sounds like a pretty good idea. Now I know what do when my little cousins hit that phase. (Princess seems like the way for them.)

  71. We do super-powers for chores – I’ve never thought of abusing – er, using – it for mealtimes, too! Great idea.

    Let’s see… I like to sneak healthy foods on their plate without them knowing. Blend veggies into the spaghetti sauce, etc. It’s just easier to avoid the conflict altogether if I can!
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  72. Thankfully, my kids will eat a good variety of foods. But they all have their moments! “Mom, I want applesauce!” Ok, fine, applesauce it is. “NOOOOO NOT APPLESAUCE!”

    Kids. Sometimes you just can’t win!
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  73. since Noah LOVES superhero’s too we’ve tried similar ways to get him to try new things also! Noah isn’t too picky with veggies, he’s more picky with meat. He and Maya LOVE frozen peas and carrots…Noah could eat bowl and after bowl! LOL! Whatever works and whatever he likes! They also really like cooked baby carrots, boiled with a little bit of brown sugar in the pan.

  74. Elizabeth has always been pretty good at eating. She always eats what we have. Occasionally she won’t like it, but as long as she tries it we’re ok with that. But we don’t make her other food like some parents will. We give her more of the part of dinner she does like (like pasta, rice, or grapes or something). We figure that if we provide the variety she can decide for herself.

    I know not all kids are like her! In one of my nutrition classes we discussed the theory that the less emotion, pressure, and excitement you attach to food, the better your child will be at consuming a variety (granted you provide the options). We’ve always tried that and for her it works really well!

  75. We have also been most successful by telling our child that his food is “dinosaur bones”, etc… Even just by telling him simple things, like how carrots really make your eyes healthier and stronger excite him. It’s so great seeing him eat other things besides Easy Mac and Dinosaur Oatmeal.

  76. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” my girls can now repeat that. :) it’s still tough!

  77. Hey~ Just saw you joined the “Mormon” group. Nice to have more groupies. ;) Cute blog by the way.
    As for meal time tactics, I just don’t feed snacks afterwards if they don’t eat dinner. They’ve gone to bed hungry a few times, but they’ve survived. ;)

  78. We use bribes. Oreo cookies work great.

  79. Little Bit is a very picky eater. He is 20 months old so the super hero trick just wont work yet. I am still baffled about what to do to get him to eat consistently. I try sneaking good things in. He likes banana bread so I make it with whole wheat. He will eat steamed broccoli at the Thai restaurant so we eat there. Le sigh….
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  80. Thanks for sharing your superhero trick. My son just turned 5 and is still a very picky eater. He won’t touch normal things most kids love like peanut butter and cheese. I’ve never figured out how to get him to eat those.

    Thanks for the stumble on Tuesday. I’ve stumbled this post!
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  81. Elizabeth Vassallo says:

    Love the superhero tactic! My 1 year old DD is so far a super eater, but I am waiting for the day that my own picky-ness comes back to haunt me…So far she is always interested in whatever is on my plate so if she isn’t paying attention to her own dinner, I just put it on my plate and she practically inhales it! ;)

  82. I can relate to the picky eater part. My son used to be a good eater…until he started feeding himself. There was a long time where he wouldn’t eat any proteins or cheese. Now, I put everything on a small wooden skewer and it’s gone by the end of the meal. I’m guessing it is the thrill of pulling each bite of a stick! I must admit, that some nights I throw in the towel and make him oatmeal {his favorite} instead of what we’re having!
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  83. Love your idea! Both my kids are picky eaters and there picky in different ways… It’s really hard to find meals they will both eat without complaint. I have tried lots of different tactics but haven’t found anything full-proof yet… Sometimes bribery with desert works. My four year old is the most stubborn.
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  84. Awesome post. I think all of us have had picky children at one time or another. Luckily, with your hints they don’t have to stay that way.

    Have a fun-filled weekend.
    Blessings,
    Pamela
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  85. Way to go Amy… the picky eaters are now teenagers and will pretty much eat anything that’s not moving! LOL and… eat twice as much. Cherish these times and your minuscule food bill.

  86. I’m still a picky eater – won’t get anywhere near a raw tomato. However I do enjoy spinach, thanks to all the “be strong like Popeye” references I heard when i was little. =D
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  87. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my picky eater to eat. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know. The only thing I’ve figured out is to try cooking the food differently. My daughter eats chicken on the bone and boneless chicken if it’s cooked in liquid, but not if it’s fried or baked or barbequed.
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  88. We have some pick eaters, too! I love that many sauces have servings of veggies included these days. Also, a food processor does wonders. It’s amazing how many recipes can be substituted with sweet potatoes. Kids love those. :) Great post!
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  89. Awesome! Great tips, really like whole blog.

  90. Diana Hardy says:

    Such great ideas! I’m going to store these away somewhere for when we have kids!

  91. Sonia Rodriguez says:

    My son is 2 months old and his diet consists of my breastmilk mostly and some formula….so far we have had to switch his formula but I don’t think it was because he was being picky…it just didn’t agree with his tummy. Thanks for the input on how to get him to eat what he may not like if I chose to make him eat stuff =)

  92. I have to say I’ve been lucky getting a boy who LOVES his fruits and vegetables. A few weeks ago he packed an entire head of broccoli to take as a snack to his friend’s afternoon pool party. But I LOVE how creative you’ve been getting your kids to eat-the superhero idea may come in handy for other things we struggle with (like brushing teeth).
    Here’s an article my sister wrote a few months ago about her picky eater http://sixinthekitchen.blogspot.com/search/label/children
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  93. I think that once your child is eating the same things at the table as the rest of the family, having that expectation set that they eat what the family is eating is important and helpful in this aspect. We never got to pull the “I want ________ instead” trick. I also think preparing meals that have lots of veggies mixed in to the composition of the dish instead of always having an isolated portion of them on the plate can also be helpful sometimes. Thanks for all these great comments everyone! It’s awesome to read these!
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  94. The promise of going to McDonalds for an ice cream cone worked on a number of occasions. Adding ketchup to so many things makes them eatable to youngsters, who would have thought that ketchup goes with mash potatoes which of course were used to hide the veggies.

  95. My mom always used to say that there were starving kids in China. That always kind of helped.

  96. Sara Gardner says:

    So I commented earlier on how I get my pickiest eater to eat (Mason), but I realized that my son, Joshua, though normally a good eater, has his moments of pickiness. One thing that I realized helps with him is that he likes a variety of food for one meal. He doesn’t like just one type of food—like all rice for dinner. He wants a few bites of rice, then a few bites of a banana, then a few bites of chicken. I just keep on rotating until he’s full. I find that this method helps him continue to feel engaged during meal time instead of wanting out of this high chair asap.

  97. Sara Gardner says:

    And of course the promise of one of those “Blue Bell Mini Ice Cream Cones” works wonders to motivate my picky eater, Mason. Of course he would bargain with me when I would say you may have AN (meaning 1) ice cream cone and he would hold up his little fingers and say: thwee ice cweam cones! It always amazes me what his tummy has room for when he’s willing to eat!

  98. I have a picky eater. He could live on peanut butter and honey sandwiches if I would let him. Sometimes I let him choose what he wants to eat and then I let him know that next time it’s mommy’s turn to choose. He usually goes with it if he likes it or not.. Good luck!

  99. When I was little, I hated eating my veggies. So my mom decided to make little veggie people. Sometimes she’d even take edible markers and draw faces on the cucumbers. Taking peanut butter and raisens spread on celery are a classic treat. Gotta love those ants on a log!!!

  100. Here in Japan some people say that leftovers attract ghosts. If you don’t want ghosts to come then you’d better eat everything on your plate!

  101. I loved when Brady was little how you told him that tomatoes were tomatillos. It’s amazing how changing the name makes all the difference!! =D I think that involving kids in the food prep might help them get excited to eat it. If they are able to see something that they made, gives them a sense of pride and also takes away the “What is that?!” reaction.

  102. Sarah Harrison says:

    I use a trick that I grew up with, and for some reason it just works. If one (or all!) of our kids aren’t eating enough, they need to eat as many bites as they are old. So if they are 5, they would need to eat 5 big bites of their meal. Also, I’m a mean mom in that whatever I make, that’s what they get. I have two meals, Take it, or Leave it! :)
    (but we also say the raw broccoli is trees and to ‘eat the birdies’. So weird and kind of inhumane, but it works every time!)

    • Sarah Harrison says:

      Oh, and my kids also help (a VERY loose term, here!) where they can in meal prep, so it’s kind of like they get to enjoy their finished product :)

  103. Jenell Hunter says:

    Yes, I have a pick eater, for sure. It’s been difficult, so we supplement with vitamins. I’ve tried some recipes, but nothing works. He could eat french fries non-stop if I let him. LOL!

  104. We Hide a Lot of veggies in sauces, it works about half the time :)

  105. Put everything in a shell

  106. Ha, I love the face in the photo, hee hee. :-)

  107. Love your article, gave me some great tips for my grandkids! Thank you!
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  108. jewel cooke says:

    I think you just have to mix it up, finger foods..

  109. jewel cooke says:

    love to cook for kids

  110. jeffery cooke says:

    kids love to eat!!

  111. This is Not my strong suit, I have a very picky eater as a husband and a very picky first born daughter and I have worked around them as much as possible. For the sake of their health I have over the years slowly switched white flour to whole grain (in pasta and breads), white rice to brown – but that is just about the extent of it. I am currently working on watering down their juice….I’m hoping to over time work my way into Just Water. Sorry I’m not much help, as I said, this is not my strong suit!

  112. I have alot of picky eaters in my family! I wish there was a pill I could give them to change there taste buds! I just keep putting it on there plate hoping that one day it will be gone!

  113. picky eaters at my house is a common site! I just keep putting it on there plates hoping that one day it will be gone!

  114. I never out grew being a picky eater so I can’t help you. I still do just a basic no salt, no veggie kinda diet but I turned out okay so I guess I’m saying that kids will eat when they are hungry, quit trying so hard.

  115. I just keep trying the same things, sometimes different ways, and eventually it seems to click, LOL.
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  116. Straight from Calvin and Hobbes: tell them it’s monster brains. Works like a carm.

  117. When I got my boys they were 5 and 2. They were used to eating only what Dad would/could fix…usually tv dinners, and ‘frozen ready to eat’ foods, i.e. fish sticks, pizza rolls, pizza, etc. When I made a real meal and tried to feed them veggies you’d have thought I was trying to poison them. Dad backed me up, and made them eat what I cooked. Now, their favorite foods are broccoli and asparagus!
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  118. We have a rule about not having “bedtime snack” unless they have eaten well. As for trying new foods, I just try to casually ask because pushing the issue does not work with my guys.
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  119. you can grate nearly anything but onions and green pepper into chocolate cake or brownie batter and they’ll never ever know!
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  120. Oh, my word – this brings back memories! My kids are older now, so our challenge is in ensuring that they continue to eat healthy, more so than the picky eater phase. Both of mine went through that as toddlers. I swear, the year my daughter was three, she tried insisting on eating nothing but cantaloupe. (big Mom groan).

    We were very fortunate in that both kids are crazy about fruits and veggies. We always accepted that smaller tummies of active kids work well with smaller amounts more frequently during the day but insisted on limited “treats” to once per day, with healthy choices first. Unlike when I was growing up, with the big, hearty dinners, we focused more on heartier breakfast and lunch, with lighter evening meal.

    Our biggest nutritional challenge was getting the kids to try new main courses, especially anything that was all mixed together, like a casserole. I did find that familiarity bred acceptance. The more times they saw it served, the more inclined they were to give it a try. As well, helping make dinner seemed to help as well.

    My parents were very strict on clearing your plate. With my children, I didn’t sweat it. Our philosophy was to encourage testing new things, plenty of fruits and veggies, with praise for trying and ignoring up turned noses.
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  121. I am dreading this whole topic! I have a 2 month old and a Daddy who thinks his kid is going to everything Daddy wants him to eat! Oh boy
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  122. Jennifer Clay says:

    This has go to be the cutest thing. I do this at times with my girls…not really going into the whole super power aspect but more of it will grow your hair out REALLY long like in Tangled. More of that line! But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!

  123. We have been doing healthy smoothies in our house and they are chalked full of healthy things my daughter normally won’t eat well. One of my favorite add ins for her is spinach. It is so good for her.
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  124. My oldest son was always picky and still is all grown. I would say if you don’t want to eat it when he was older there is always a can of chili or a peanut butter sandwich. He always ate salads, celery, fruits, milk etc. So I always had a vegetable dip and salad. He isn’t fat so we have to not make a big deal about things or it gets to be a war and who wants that?

  125. christina moore says:

    Great topic

  126. Ang Alford says:

    NOTHING YET !! I will try some of these suggestions ! She is 2, and she eats green beans (from Lee’s Famous Recipe only) bagel, fries, cheese, and yogurt every once in awhile , that is IT. I think she ate meat once and spit it out . Dreaming of the age she can understand a bribe

  127. Hmmm…it’s been a while since my two picky eaters! I tried to make popular, healthy meals and recognized a “clean plate” as a big accomplishment (serving sizes were only what I knew they could eat). And although everyone had the same foods on their plates, the serving size of the “yucky” food on “Picky’s” plate was only a couple of bites. And of course, the yucky food was always left for last. So, I would make a big deal about how close they were to a “clean plate”…you only have two bites left. The last two or three bites sometimes took five minutes, but the looks of “I did it” on their faces at the end made it all worthwhile…at least for me!?!

    Mom

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