My Preschooler is a Picky Eater, What Can I Do?

    My Preschooler is a Picky Eater, What Can I Do?

    My preschooler is a picky eater, what should I do? Encouraging your preschooler to have a balanced diet can be quite tricky when they’re a picky eater. You frequently find yourself looking out for opportunities when you can offer them healthy foods, especially vegetables. Here are some tips to help you feed your little one without a fuss.

    My preschooler is a picky eater: What to do?

    Refrain from “short-order” preparation

    In your desire to ensure that your child eats, you might resort to “short-order preparation,” or the act of cooking only what your preschooler wants.

    According to experts, this method only encourages picky eating. What they advise is to model solidarity among members.

    Prepare one or two foods that your preschooler likes, but cook meals for the whole family and show the child that none of you are requesting “other” foods. This sends the message that you are expecting the preschooler to have the same meal as everyone else.

    my preschooler is a picky eater

    Don’t get tired of offering them new foods

    When it comes to having a balanced diet, variety is essential. Hence, even if your preschooler is a picky eater, don’t get tired of offering them new foods. Experts say that some kids may even need to try food at least 10 times before accepting it!

    What to do if my preschooler is a picky eater? To make your offer more enticing, consider combining the new food with something they already love. Likewise, you can prepare the food differently.

    Consider the timing and environment

    The timing by which you offer them food is also crucial.

    For instance, kids are not likely to eat new foods when they’re already full. That’s why it’s a great idea to offer them food at the start of the meal when they feel hungry.

    Additionally, set a time limit for mealtimes. In most cases, half an hour is enough for your preschooler to finish their food. Adjust the limit depending on their ability to feed themselves.

    Finally, don’t allow toys or gadgets on the table. This rule will enable them to focus on eating.

    Nutritional Needs of Preschoolers: Guide for Parents

    Make mealtimes pleasant

    Besides looking for food ideas for picky eaters, making mealtimes pleasant is also crucial.

    My preschooler is a picky eater, should I “ground” them and not give them dinner? Remember that some strict rules may affect your child’s appetite, so besides exerting a certain level of control over what they eat, the rest is up to them. Here are some valuable tips:

    • Don’t “force” your preschooler to eat something he or she doesn’t like. Experts say this raises tension during mealtimes and makes dining unpleasant.
    • Instead, consider setting an “agreement” with your child. Ask them to have at least one bite of the foods you offer them. In most cases, 1 tablespoon of new food is enough for them.
    • Don’t force them to “clean” their plate. Generally, preschoolers need smaller portions; that’s why they often feel full quickly.

    Stock up on food ideas for picky eaters

    If your preschooler is a picky eater, it’s even more important for you to get creative with food ideas. Here are some useful tips:

    • Use various herbs and spices to make foods tastier.
    • Prepare or rearrange foods in colorful objects, shapes, or characters that they can recognize.
    • Take advantage of finger foods. Children especially like foods with dips.
    • Does your child love peanut butter? If so, allow them to spread it on various fruits.
    • “Hiding” foods in plain sight still works. Don’t they like broccoli? Try to chop the vegetable and mix it in spaghetti sauce.

    Encourage your preschooler to explore

    And finally, if your preschooler is a picky eater, encouraging them to explore their food options will be helpful.

    Bring them with you to the grocery store and let them see a variety of fruits and vegetables. Ask them what they’d like to eat.

    Have them help you cook and prepare meals; let them handle the foods you want them to try.


    My preschooler is a picky eater, what can I do? Picky eating, according to experts, is often “developmentally normal,” especially for kids aged 2 to 4. With your help, encouragement, and creativity, they can outgrow this phase.

    Learn more about Parenting a Preschooler here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


    The ‘picky eater’: The toddler or preschooler who does not eat
    Accessed December 31, 2020

    What Should My Preschooler Be Eating?
    Accessed December 31, 2020

    How Should I Deal With a Picky Eater?
    Accessed December 31, 2020

    10 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters
    Accessed December 31, 2020

    Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for picky eaters
    Accessed December 31, 2020

    Feeding a Picky Eater: The Do’s and Don’ts
    Accessed December 31, 2020

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 09, 2021
    Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS