The Curse of the Picky Eater

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P is for Parenting: The Curse of the Picky Eater

Anyone who has been around a toddler can tell you that they are notoriously picky eaters. Tiny, stubborn, insanely frustrating eaters.  What they will eat one day, they will turn their nose up at the next day.  And try something new?  Forget about it.  My first born would eat anything I put on her highchair tray as a baby.  Avocado?  Loved it!  Pureed cauliflower? Sure! Fruit, veggies, meat, dairy, anything.  So I was totally unprepared for the toddler stage…

The Curse of the Picky Eater



Are you familiar with the famous Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs & Ham?   “I will not eat them with a mouse.  I will not eat them in a house.  I will not eat them here or there.  I will not eat them anywhere.  I do not like green eggs and ham.  I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”  Every time I read this book, it makes me giggle thinking about all the ways I have tried to get my kids to eat.

I am by no means Dr. Seuss but here is my version:

“Would you eat it from a bowl? How about if I left it whole? In a cup or on this plate?  Just one taste would be so great! If I cut it in a heart? Please just try this tiny part. Would you not have such a fit if I put some syrup on it? In a tiny treasure chest?  Playing with food is just the best!”

Please, kid, can’t you just have ONE bite?!?!  Ha, ha!  I know you know what I’m talking about, right?

I used to get so stressed out thinking about what my toddler had actually eaten in a given day.  Can she survive on animal crackers alone?  My wise and gentle family physician gave me such helpful advice about this topic. She reminded me that picky eating is usually about control and is a normal part of toddlerhood.  She suggested that I not focus on her food intake from a single day, but instead think about what was consumed over the past week or even the past month.  Has she had some fruits and vegetables?  Some dairy?  Some meat or protein?  If so, then we are probably doing alright.  This concept was so freeing to me.  When I think about the big picture, she probably is getting a fairly balanced diet.  Not perfect by any means, but good enough.  And every once in a while, she will actually try something new.

Picky Eater meme

Of course, there are times when picky eating and poor nutrition indicate a health concern.  I am certainly not a doctor and do not wish to give any medical advice whatsoever.  Please consult your physician if you are worried about your toddler’s eating habits.  But, for me, the permission to let go of the daily stress and stay focused on the bigger picture was a mealtime game changer.  I still do wild and crazy things to make food fun and interesting for my kids, but now it is because I enjoy it.  I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to fun food ideas for kids.  Find it here:

What creative strategies have you tried to get your picky eater to try something? Please share!  As parents we can use as many tricks up our sleeve as possible!  Best wishes and bon appétit!


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8 thoughts on “The Curse of the Picky Eater

  1. My son was so picky when he was a baby. But my daughter, who is now 14 months, loves everything. She will eat whatever I give her. I hope it stays that way. Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party this week!

  2. I love your version of Green Eggs and Ham! I can certainly empathize. My almost 3 year old is just not into food. She’s more likely to eat if she can dip in ketchup, if she helps make the meal and if I draw on her plate with an edible marker.

    Good luck at dinner, mama!

    • Edible marker? That is genius! We are dipping everything in ranch currently and playing lots of racing games (see who can eat something faster). Oh, dinner is such a joy. Glad you can relate. I have no doubt that we are not alone in this battle. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Hope you are having a great week! 🙂

  3. Don’t worry about what the child eats. Mommy can write her own Dr. Seuss books instead! 🙂 Nice quote! But I know the joy of mealtime frustration too.

    • Haha! The joy of mealtime, right? I am much less stressed about it than I used to be. My four year old can now find “a brown speck” on anything which automatically disqualifies it from being edible. It is so maddening sometimes. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  4. Good morning Ava,
    Great post. I admit, I miss the toddler years, but I don’t. Though, my 4 and 6 year olds can still be awfully picky, I just wanted to let you know that you had linked this up to my Wordless Wednesday post, but I have a feeling it was meant to be linked to Littles Learning Link Up. I’m hesitant to change it myself, however, just in case I am wrong. If you did mean for it to be on Littles Learning Link Up, I would love if you could stop by and add it there. I will then delete it from Wordless Wednesday. Here is the direct link to the Littles Learning Link Up.
    Have a great day

    • Hi, Karen- Thanks for stopping by with a comment. I think my 4 year old is pickier now than when she was a toddler. Argh! Sorry about the confusion with your parties – I will be more mindful next time. Hope you are having a great week. 🙂

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