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How Should I Deal With a Picky Eater?

My daughter would be happy eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How can I get her to eat different foods?
Arlene

It can be frustrating when kids want to eat the same thing every day — but it's not uncommon. Encourage them to try at least a few bites of different nutritious foods at each meal. Kids are often slow to accept new tastes and textures, so you may have to present a food 10 to 15 times before they'll try it.

Look for recipes with ingredients your kids like, and invite them to join you in the grocery shopping, cooking, and serving of foods. Don't let them fill up on juice, and try offering veggies as between-meal snacks. Since your child likes peanut butter, let her put it on other foods as a topping. Or use cookie cutters to make other foods into fun shapes.

It's important not to let a child's pickiness become a source of mealtime tension. You shouldn't cook special meals just for a picky eater, but do include something he or she likes in every meal. And although it might be tempting, don't use food as a reward. Telling kids they can have a cookie if they eats their broccoli only reinforces the appeal of the cookie over the veggies.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010

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