Expert Answers to Your Picky-Eater Problems

Do you feel like a short-order cook trying to please your picky eater? Or worry that your child's insistence on eating mac 'n' cheese for every meal is depriving him of important nutrients? The key to coping with a child's picky eating is patience, says nutritionist Sue Gilbert, M.S. It's also important to know that the following picky-eating behaviors are normal:

• Children go on food "jags" where they seemingly eat only one food.
• Children need fewer calories than you think -- which means that they may be full when you think they're being finicky.
• Children are separatists who typically like their foods individually, not combined or even "touching."
• Children are wary of new foods. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't offer them new things to try, but keep your expectations low and your attitude upbeat when you do.

Learn more about feeding your picky eater from Sue Gilbert below. Then get advice from other moms (and share your own coping tips too) in the iVillage Message Boards.

How can I get my child to try different foods?
Familiarity is the key to acceptance. Try serving foods that you want your child to try over and over again. Include a small portion on your child's plate and let him take it from there. If he won't even touch it, that's okay. Just be sure that you also have one or two of his favorite foods on hand so he won't go hungry. When he gets close to being willing to taste something new, reassure him that he can take it out of his mouth if he doesn't like it. It may take months before a child expands his food repertoire. Until then, maintain a relaxed attitude, let him know that you are enjoying his company during family dinners and keep the emphasis off what is not being eaten.

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