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7 Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater

I love to cook. And I come from a huge Italian family chock-full of "good eaters." You want a clean plate? No problem. Pile on the seconds! So when I got pregnant with my first baby boy, I erroneously assumed that he would fit right in with the rest of my gluttonous family. Cut to my one-year-old toddler spitting out everything I put in front of him, and me turning bright red and fuming that nothing I made was satisfactory to his delicate taste buds.

My first-born is now a picky three-year-old. Not much has changed (except that he now has a one-year-old brother who will happily chow down on anything that is placed in front of him. I finally birthed a good eater!) But I still have my older kid to contend with. I have read countless articles, consulted with nutritionists, and have commiserated with friends whose children belong to the same picky eater club as my kid. If your child also holds a membership card to this incredibly frustrating club, then hopefully some of these tips will help you stay sane, and help your little one eat more than bread, cheese, and pasta.

1. Don't make them finish.

If your kid doesn't want to eat, don't make him. Yes, it will tear you up inside as your mama bear instincts will want to make sure that your child is nourished and has a full, happy tummy. But there is good logic behind letting your little one eat as little as he wants. First, he might actually not be hungry. At this time in his life, he is learning about listening to his body. If he is hungry, he will eat. "But then he'll be starving later!" you say. Yes, probably. And that will lead to him eating his next meal. The trick here is to stand firm. If he doesn't want to eat now, that's fine. But that also means that he cannot have access to snacks five minutes before bedtime. When dinner is over, the kitchen is closed. After a day or two of this, you'll find that your child will begin to eat more and more at every meal.

2. Have everyone eat the same thing, together.

If your child is in school, then this can be difficult for lunchtime, and even breakfast. But try to eat as many meals together as a family as you can. It will teach your child that mealtime is not only the time to eat food, but a time to be social and talk about the day. It is important that you all eat the same food as well. If she sees you and your partner eating broccoli, eventually she will too. Good habits are learned. And if she doesn't eat it? Refer to #1 above.