Parenting Hacks for Dealing With Picky Eaters

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Being an experienced mom, I know how challenging it can be when your kids are picky eaters.

What exactly is a picky eater?

Children are frequently described as being picky eaters. However, this term has been inconsistently defined in prior research. There is limited qualitative research data investigating how parent’s define picky eating, how they respond to it, or how they see picky eating impacting their child’s dietary intake or the family meal. For this study, parents (n=88) of siblings (ages 2–18 years old) were interviewed in their homes. The semi-structured interviews focused on parent feeding practices and child eating behaviors. A qualitative content analysis approach was used to analyze the data; themes regarding picky eating emerged. Results of this study show that the majority of parents (94% female; mean age 35 years) were from minority and low income homes. The following themes regarding picky eating were identified: 1) children were frequently described as being picky eaters; 2) parents defined picky eating in a variety of ways (i.e., not liking a few foods; limited intake; resisting texture or appearance of foods; resistance to new foods); 3) picky eating impacts the family meal (i.e., promotes meal-related parent stress; impacts meal preparation); and 4) parents respond to picky eating in a variety of ways (i.e., require child tries food; allow child to make separate meal; allow child not to eat; parent makes a separate meal; allows child to choose only food he/she likes; requires child to eat anyway). This study demonstrates that many parents experience child picky eating and report that it impacts family meals. It provides information on the specific ways pickiness impacts the family meal and how parents respond to pickiness. This study also provides guidance for future studies wishing to define picky eating or evaluate the prevalence of child pickiness.


It can sometimes feel like a never-ending battle trying to get them to eat nutritious meals. However, over the years, I’ve discovered a few parenting hacks that have helped me navigate this tricky territory.

If you’re a mom who isn’t picky but has picky kids, here are some tips that might just save your sanity:

  1. Lead By Example: Kids are more likely to try new foods if they see their parents eating them. Be adventurous with your own eating habits and show them that trying new things can be fun.
  2. Get Them Involved: Whenever possible, involve your kids in meal planning and preparation. Take them grocery shopping and let them choose some fruits, vegetables, or healthy snacks they would like to try. This will give them a sense of ownership and make them more willing to give new foods a chance.
  3. Serve Family-Style Meals: Instead of being the food dictator, allow your kids to serve themselves from a variety of healthy options. Kids tend to be more receptive when they have control over their portions and feel empowered to choose what they eat.
  4. Make Food Fun: Get creative with presentation to make meals more visually appealing. Use cookie cutters for fun-shaped sandwiches or arrange fruits and veggies into colorful patterns. The more appealing the food looks, the more likely your picky eaters will be to give it a try.
  5. Introduce New Foods Gradually: Instead of overwhelming your child with an entirely new dish, introduce new foods gradually. Start by including small portions of new foods alongside familiar favorites. This will help your kids develop a taste for diverse flavors without feeling overwhelmed.
  6. Don’t Force It: It’s important to remember that forcing your child to eat something they don’t like can backfire. Keep offering a variety of foods and encourage them to taste, but respect their preferences. It may take several attempts before they develop a liking for certain foods.
  1. Camouflage Ingredients: Sneak in nutrients by adding vegetables or fruits into dishes your child already enjoys. For example, blend spinach into smoothies, puree veggies into pasta sauces, or add grated carrots to muffins. This way, they’re getting the extra vitamins and minerals they need without even realizing it!

Now that you have these parenting hacks in your arsenal, it’s time to put them into action. Remember, patience is key when dealing with picky eaters, so don’t get discouraged if your child doesn’t immediately embrace new foods. Keep trying, keep offering, and eventually, they may surprise you.

If you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas on how to make mealtime a breeze, check out some other posts I’ve done that will help you save time and ensure your family is eating nutritious meals throughout the week.

Also take some tips about time management to help get everything on the table when it should be:

Remember, tackling picky eaters requires creativity, patience, and a sense of humor. Stay positive and don’t be too hard on yourself. With these parenting hacks and the support of helpful resources like, you’re on your way to conquering the picky eater battle and raising healthy, happy kids!

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