Picky Eater? If You Eat It, They Will Too

The broccoli is tossed to the floor. Milk rains down on the floor below. Flying saucers of ravioli fly across the room. Your toddler’s plate remains full. Sound familiar? These are the trying times of a family with a picky eater.

Kids are naturally picky eaters, but given time and your help they can out grow this phase. What you serve your kids will determine their lifelong eating preferences. Research shows that the more you serve a food, the more likely your kids are to eat it -- even if they don't touch it for a long time. Eating, just like everything else in your toddler’s life, is a learned experience. The more familiar a child is with a certain food, the less likely they are to reject it.

A study from the University of Tennessee found:

  • In over 80 percent of cases there was a strong relationship between what foods the toddlers liked and what foods other family members also liked.
  • Foods that were never offered were also foods the mother didn’t like.
  • Of the almost 200 foods offered in this study, there was no food disliked by over 50 percent of the toddlers.

If you are concerned about your child being a picky eater:

  • Serve your child a wide variety of healthy foods, even if these are foods you don’t like yourself.
  • If your child doesn’t like a food, don’t give up: The more often you offer a food to your child, the more likely it is that they will one day pick up that piece of broccoli and put it in their mouth. Who knows, they may even smile as they chew it!
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