How to Manage Picky Eating in Your Preschooler

Preschooler (24+ months)
By Gerber

What do you do when your Preschooler (around 2 to 4 years of age) wants pasta for dinner every night? Or refuses to eat anything green? There's more than one answer, but these tips should help you find the solution that's right for your family. The truth is, there's no standard definition for picky eating, and what one parent thinks of as picky may not seem picky at all to another. But there are lots of ways to help your Preschooler eat, and like, a varied and nutritious diet, even if they do have picky eating habits. Here are our top tips to help make it simpler.

Manage a picky eater

  • Let your Preschooler explore their food, even if it gets messy. Young children often need to look at, touch, smell, and taste a food before eating it.
  • Include a food you know they’ll eat, and then let them choose if they want to try the other foods being served.
  • Don't bother preparing a separate meal—that may encourage them to continue this type of behavior at mealtime. Keep serving healthy choices until your child becomes familiar with the food.
  • Be a good role model to your Preschooler and eat foods even if you don't like them. When a child sees their mom, dad, or siblings eating a nutritious food, they may be more willing to try it for themselves.
  • Let your child pick out a vegetable or fruit at the grocery store, and then help you wash and prepare it. Children are more willing to try foods when they're part of the prep.
  • Don't bribe your little one with sweets. This teaches them that some foods are desirable while others aren’t.
  • Follow their hunger and fullness cues, and remember—it's your job to provide nutritious foods at regular meal and snack times, but your child should decide whether and how much to eat.
  • Avoid pressuring your child to eat, as their appetite will vary and they may not always be hungry. Offer healthy foods and let them decide what and how much to eat.
  • Avoid restricting foods your child likes as this will make them even more desirable. Limit treats and continue offering healthy options.
  • Be patient and keep trying by offering healthy foods. Sometimes it takes up to 10 times of exploring a new food to begin to like it.