8 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

Last update on April 20, 2016.

8 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

The first few months of feeding my son “real” food was a breeze. He absolutely loved baby food. In fact, he liked carrots so much that he actually turned a slight shade of orange because I was feeding them to him almost daily. Oops! New mom problems, right?

My picky eater wake-up call came when he turned nine months old. Suddenly, he didn’t like his food anymore. He would scrunch up his face at me and push the spoon away in disgust. “But you love potatoes,” I pleaded. My once happy mealtime routine was squashed with a tiny fist of fury. 

If you’re dealing with a similar situation, don’t stress out. It’s actually pretty common. Lost of babies start to be picky eaters around 9-10 months old. This is the age when they start developing a sense of independence and test their ability to control a situation. 

I know it’s frustrating when your baby refuses foods, but there are some things you can do to cope with your picky eater and maintain your cool.

Offering Is The Best You Can Do

For most babies, they may snub food for a while, but if they’re truly hungry, they will eat. The best thing you can do is offer a selection of healthy foods. You can’t make ‘em sleep and you can’t make ‘em eat. 

Add Color & Cube It

It might not be the food, but it may be the presentation. When baby gets old enough to feed herself that might be exactly what she wants. Chop up some sweet potatoes and green beans and let her explore feeding herself sans spoon. Perhaps finger foods will give her the thrill of independence. Color helps too, so try to add bright colors to her plate. 

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Follow The Food Chain

You may be able to expand her foodie horizons during a picky phase by introducing different versions of the food she likes. For example, if she likes French fries, offer her a food with a similar texture, crunch and taste or offer a baked potato. If she’s into carbs and not veggies for a few days, do your best to go with it. 

Avoid the Blame Game

It’s easy to start blaming yourself when you have a picky eater. I remember feeling a combination of self-doubt and frustration with my boys. After pointless battles and short-order cook episodes, which ruined more than a few meals together, I eventually eased off. It wasn’t always easy, but when I relaxed during meals, they relaxed. 

Control Grazing Before Meals

Although my boys would perform picky eater plays at the table, they would snack and “graze” on all sorts of foods during the day with ease. When I started adding up the juice, goldfish crackers and fruits they’d eat, I realized sometimes they probably weren’t even hungry. When I started controlling the “grazing” and they were hungrier at meals, they’d do a much better job of accepting the foods or at least trying them. 

Sore Gums

When your baby starts teething her gums may be sore and irritated. This could be the culprit as to why she is turning away her favorite foods. Her mouth hurts! If this is the case, her appetite will usually return back to normal pretty quickly. 

Get a grip on teething with our handy guide about when to expect those pearly whites.

Growth Spurts

Both of my boys went through obvious growth spurts where they would be ravenous for a week and then they would hardly eat for a few days. This is a normal occurrence for many babies. Just as growth can cause them to eat more, the slowing down of growth will cause them to eat less.

They’ll Surprise You

Patience pays off! Keep introducing old and new foods, even if she turns them away because your baby will surprise you. Just as your tastes have probably changed over the years, so will your baby’s. You never know what her new favorite food will be!