Understanding My Picky Eater

Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician, suggests, "Offering a variety of foods consistently can help children become more comfortable with unfamiliar tastes and textures over time."


Having a picky eater can be a daunting challenge for parents, leaving them feeling frustrated and concerned about their child's nutrition. However, it's important to understand that aversions to certain foods are common among children and can be overcome with patience and the right strategies. Let's explore the various factors that contribute to picky eating, discuss effective techniques for introducing new foods, address potential allergies, and navigate the world of taste buds. By understanding the reasons behind picky eating and implementing practical approaches, exhausted parents can find ways forward and foster healthier eating habits for their children.

Understanding Aversions to Foods:
Aversions to specific foods can stem from a variety of factors, including sensory sensitivities, negative past experiences, and psychological or emotional influences. Children may exhibit aversions to certain tastes, textures, colors, or smells. It is crucial to approach this issue with empathy and an understanding that aversions are often beyond a child's control.

Some argue that picky eating is simply a phase that children will outgrow naturally. While it is true that some children do develop more diverse palates over time, it is essential to address the issue proactively to ensure proper nutrition and avoid prolonged unhealthy eating habits.

Consistency is key when dealing with picky eaters. Establishing a routine around mealtime can create a sense of security for children and make them more receptive to trying new foods. Set regular meal and snack times, provide a structured environment, and offer a variety of healthy options.

Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician, suggests, "Offering a variety of foods consistently can help children become more comfortable with unfamiliar tastes and textures over time."

Introducing New Foods:
Introducing new foods can be a gradual process that involves patience and creativity. Here are a few effective techniques:

The "One Bite Rule": Encourage your child to try at least one bite of a new food before deciding if they like it or not. This approach allows them to explore new flavors without feeling overwhelmed. Even if the kid doesn't like the food, it is a good practice to continue reintroducing the food in different forms like cubed, sliced, mashed, etc.

Food Pairings: Combine new foods with familiar ones to increase the chances of acceptance. For example, serving broccoli or shaved and mixed into another food that your child loves. Pairing with a favorite dip or mixing spinach into a pasta sauce can make it more appealing.

Food Exploration: Engage children in grocery shopping or gardening activities to spark their curiosity about different foods. Involving them in the process can make them more excited to try new things. Kids may also be more interested in trying foods that they help to make or watch being made. Include your kids when creating new recipes to achieve interest in trying their own creations.

Figuring Out Allergies:
Sometimes, picky eating can be attributed to undiagnosed food allergies. If you suspect that your child may have an allergy, consult a medical professional for testing and guidance. Allergy tests can identify specific triggers, allowing you to make informed decisions about your child's diet.

Too much focus on potential allergies may lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions and hinder a child's exposure to a wide range of foods. For babies, using methods that help introduce new foods to a new solid food eater, like the Baby Led Weaning method, will help navigate allergies. While it is important not to jump to conclusions, identifying allergies through proper medical consultation ensures the child's well-being.


Navigating Taste Buds:
Children often have more sensitive taste buds than adults, making them more sensitive to bitter, spicy or strong flavors. Oftentimes, multiples meals being prepared, reduced seasoning, or food cooked in different forms (roasted chicken vs fried chicken) to help to mitigate taste aversions. To accommodate their preferences without compromising nutrition, consider alternative options:

Texture Alternatives: If a child dislikes certain textures, explore alternatives that offer similar nutritional benefits. For instance, if they dislike cooked vegetables, try offering raw or lightly steamed options. Or if you find they really like a certain texture, increase the foods with that same texture. 

Flavor Masking or Reduction: Experiment with seasonings, herbs, and mild sauces to mask strong flavors that your child may find unappealing. Gradually reduce the intensity on things that you notice they may have had difficulty. Allow you child to explore your spice cabinet and add the spices when you're preparing a meal to help expand their palate and sensory.

Dealing with picky eaters requires understanding, patience, and a multi-faceted approach. By recognizing the various factors that contribute to aversions, parents can adopt effective techniques for introducing new foods, navigating allergies, and considering taste preferences. Remember, every child is unique, and progress may take time. Be persistent, stay positive, and seek professional advice when needed. With the right strategies, time and consistency, parents can help their children develop a healthy relationship with food that will benefit them for a lifetime.



1. Greene, A. (2007). Feeding the Picky Eater. DrGreene.com. Retrieved from https://www.drgreene.com/feeding-picky-eater/

2. D'Auria, E., et al. (2019). Managing Childhood Food Allergy: A Review. Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, 32(3), 97-103.