Help! My Child Won’t Eat!

Having a picky eater in your house can be a big struggle each day. And parents often worry that their children are not getting proper nutrition. Fortunately the picky eater stage is very normal and usually temporary. Unfortunately it is still frustrating and can make meals stressful and time consuming.

Many parents turn into short order cooks; preparing different foods for each child. Others will give the child a snack shortly after dinner if the child does not eat. While these solutions will get your child to eat at that time, it may set up expected behavior patterns that are hard to break.

What can you try at home to help increase food intake at meals?

  1. Kids will usually start asking for snacks as it gets closer to meal time. Limiting snacks before meals may help them to feel hungrier for the meal and therefore eat more.
  2. Children love to have some control of the food on their plate. Letting your child dish up their own plate will help them to feel more grown up and want to try the foods. You can decide if they need to take a little of each food or just their favorites. 
  3. Children’s taste buds are very sensitive and it can take several tries of a new food before they will being to enjoy it. Encouraging your child to try just one bite will increase their exposure to new foods.
  4. Sometimes children leave the table without eating anything at all. You could cover their dinner and store in the fridge for when they get hungry later.
  5. Another possible culprit to children not being hungry could be beverages with calories. Trying to limit milk and juice intake could help increase hunger at meal times as well.  
  6. If you child does not like trying new things, try making new foods with other foods your child loves. This way there is only one “scary” food on the plate. You child will feel much more comfortable trying the new food if it is offered this way.
  7. Remember that children’s growth changes from one week to the next. They will have increased hunger when they are actively growing.
  8. You may also notice that if your child eats a lot one day, they might eat a lot less the next day. If you look at their intake over the whole week rather than just one day you may find that they are eating enough.

If you have tried it all and your child is still not interested in food, getting them helping in the kitchen might help. Letting them choose the veggie for dinner, or letting them help you cook dinner may help them to feel more interested. Plus, you will be giving them lifelong skills and happy memories with healthy foods.

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