Getting children to eat a variety of foods can be challenging, often leading to melt downs and unhappy parents. Children will eat from what is offered to them in the home; therefore, parents and caregivers play a critical role in ensuring healthy foods are available to children. Follow these steps to increase the likelihood of gaining acceptance of fruits, vegetables, and mixed dishes:

  • Offer a new item at least 15 to 20 times
  • Children prefer crunchy-crisp foods, offer raw or lightly steamed vegetables before offering cooked vegetables
  • Offer fun finger food such as: rolled chicken tacos with guacamole in dipping cups, apple slices with cinnamon-vanilla yogurt cups, or carrots with honey-peanut butter
  • Arrange fruit in individual bowls: apples in one bowl, pears in another; ensure the fruit is accessible to the child
  • Wash and cut vegetables weekly, arranging them in attractive transparent containers; place them on the dining room table daily to encourage children (& adults!) to snack on them
  • Invite other children who are good eaters to share a meal with your picky eater, children are more influenced by peers than by linguistic reasoning
  • Create a positive eating environment by sitting at the dining table and having positive conversations around body image and food
  • Allow the child to serve themselves and others
  • Link good nutrition to a healthy growing body; a healthy growing body gets taller, taller children get to ride on rides at the fair and theme parks
  • Turn off televisions, phones and tablets
  • Turn on your favorite music

The dietitians at Northern Inyo Healthcare District encourage all parents and caregivers to ask their pediatrician to refer them to one of the dietitians to assess a child’s eating habits.

Article by Denice Hynd, Registered Dietician, Northern Inyo Hospital