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The Care and Feeding of Finicky Eaters

By Becky Freeman

I was surprised to learn that children actually taste things differently than adults. Their taste buds are more sensitive so they might be overwhelmed by the spiciness of a dish their parents might consider bland.  Young children particularly do not seem to like bitter tastes, such as those found in dark green vegetables.

What to do if your child is not eating anything but peanut-butter-and-jelly or egg-salad sandwiches for weeks at a time?         

"Don't panic," says Dr. Lawrence Kutner, "If your child is generally healthy and not losing weight don't worry about it."      

Remember as long as their nutrition needs are met throughout a week, they are going to survive and thrive. (Though they may eat mostly fruit on Monday, peanut butter on Tuesday and so on…)       

For good measure, do supplement your child's food with a chewable children's multivitamin.

If they love milk or yogurt or eggs- wonderful!  These are packed with nutrition and will help non-meat eaters get their protein needs met.         

Don't force your child to eat when they aren't hungry.  However, when they are very hungry, take advantage of this and offer the most nutritious foods first. 

Allow them to help you prepare nutritious snacks being involved in the creating (or picking of fresh veggies and fruits) heightens their interest in food.   

Try some cookbooks specializing in fun-looking foods that kid like.

Brenda Nixon recommends the following cookbooks:

Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health: Birth through age 6 by Susan B Roberts, Ph.D, and Melvil Heyman, M.D.

One Bite Won't Kill You: More than 200 recipes to tempt even the pickiest kids on earth by Ann Hodgeman

    Four of my favorites are:

Feed Me! I'm Yours The Taming of the C.A.N.D.Y. Monster--BOTH by Vicky Lansky

Food for Little Fingers by Victoria Jenest

   Incredible Edible Bible Stories by Jane Jarrell (Mixes cooking, kids and spiritual lessons!)

Keep Reading

* Kids love Mini-Foods. I used to make small pizzas out of bread roll dough, and let the kids ecorate”their own with cheese and toppings. Almost anything you are serving can be arranged on their plate in a fun way! (See the book, Play With Your Food for ideas.)   

Most children love fruit smoothies, even if they aren't big fruit eaters.  I keep bananas (peeled and wrapped in plastic) in the freezer, then add them to juice or milk and blend it to a milk-shake consistency, often adding a dash of vanilla.  My kids called this Monkey Juice.    

Put it On a Stick!  Children enjoy spearing”cheese chunks with toothpicks, dipping celery, and eating cocktail sausages from the tip of a fork. (Just make sure they are old enough to handle toothpicks and forks!)       

Make mealtime pleasant.  The atmosphere we eat our food in affects our hunger and digestion. (Ever remember a delicious dinner starting to taste like cardboard once a family tiff was underway? Our children are affected by the mood we set at the table, too.)       

Take it outside!  Create an impromptu “picnic” packing finger sandwiches and small foods in a basket to go.  Even if it is just out to the back yard!

© Becky Freeman
Becky Freeman is an award-winning, best-selling author, national speaker and humor columnist, and radio/TV media personality. Among her many inspirational/true-life/humor books are fun titles like "Worms in My Tea: And Other Mixed Blessings" (nominated for a Gold Medallion), "Coffee Cup Friendship & Cheesecake Fun: Stories and Adventures Between Girlfriends", and many more. See her website at!


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