Resources to Help Your Picky Eater

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This post includes the very best resources for helping your picky eater learn to love mealtimes.

One-year-old Enoch sat in his high chair shoving every piece of food I offered off of his chair. The floor was littered with oatmeal, raisins, and bits of mushy Cheerios. I offered him a square of toast with a thin layer of peanut butter. It didn’t even touch his lips before it hit the floor.

This scenario repeated itself day after day. I sighed, heavily. Nine months pregnant with three other kids to care for I didn’t have the energy to search the cupboards for something he wanted.

I remember thinking if he were my first baby there is no doubt I would have searched the fridge and cupboards until I found something that suited him in that moment.

“This,” I thought, “Is how picky eaters are made”.

As luck would have it I was way too tired to dig through the cupboards to find something that Prince Enoch would eat. Talking it over with my husband we agreed to offer him 3-4 foods (usually what we were eating and a couple baby-friendly food options). He could take it or leave it. Milk was still a large part of his diet so we knew he wasn’t at risk of starving.

How to deal with picky picky eaters and have peaceful family mealtimes.

Eventually, he learned to eat and enjoy the same foods as the rest of our family. Enoch was (and still is) our biggest child. At 17 he is tall and muscular and it is obvious he has never suffered from any nutritional deficits.

Back in 2007, I wrote a post about how we got our kids to eat everything in response to a reader’s question about the pictures she saw of our children devouring vegetables. I stand by the words I wrote then, but in 2010 God sent a very special little boy with a unique heart. Apollo had a feeding tube placed at 22 months and had it until he was 6 1/2 years old. Watching Apollo learn to eat has given me an entirely new perspective on “picky eating”. Apollo has moved from a tube-fed toddler a picky eater.  For us, that is huge progress. It means he is at least an eater.

In the years since my original post, our family has changed. I now have nothing but compassion for parents of picky eaters and a whole lot of expertise. And six year journey to teach our son to eat, hour upon hour of research and I have found some amazing resources.

We have a surgery date for Apollo's g-tube removal. It has been a long four years and we are both eager and nervous about this new development.

Books and Websites for Picky Eaters

French Kids Eat Everything: How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters.

This is a great book that I think every parent should read. Think about it, it is highly unlikely that Laura Ingall’s mom and her pioneer friends were raising picky eaters. Part of the issue has to be with how we are raising our kids. I am a big believer in training our children’s tastebuds and teaching them to enjoy healthy food. This books covers all that and more.

Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More. 

I really wish this book didn’t have “adoptive parents” in the title because it applies to any parent. This book was actually recommended to me by a blog reader before we knew why Apollo wouldn’t eat. Author, Katja Rowell has a great website, The Feeding Doctor. She talks a lot about how to avoid food wars (something that we have tried and succeeded to do with Apollo). Apollo’s doctors have always commented on this “healthy relationship with food”…even when he wasn’t eating. I credit the advice in this book to helping establish that.

Her basic rules include things like, “you choose what and when to eat; the child chooses how much“. Giving Apollo no pressure options has been huge in his growth as an eater.

The Picky Eater Project: 6 Weeks to Happier, Healthier Family Mealtimes

This book has a literal, step-by-step guide to helping your child become a less picky eater. Broken down chapter by chapter and easy to read, this book should be on the shelf of the parents of every picky eater.

What to do about picky eaters.

Milton the Mealtime Companion

From the website: “Milton is the fun way for you to teach your children about healthy and courageous eating. When you place Milton on the table during meal time, he becomes an eating role model for your child. Ask your child to feed Milton new foods and show them how “Milton loves it”. Squeeze his adorable cheeks to show how he safely chews each bite. The uses are just about endless!”

What do to do about a picky eater.

I wrote a full review about Milton over at Large Family Reviews. Let me just say, Apollo loves Milton, we love Milton and I wish we would have had him two years ago!

Flexi Cut Cup

We were given one of these Flexi Cut Cups by a feeding therapist when Apollo was a toddler. The idea is the child can see the liquid in the cup which takes away some of the anxiety. In addition, these cups are very flexible so an adult can squeeze the cup to make it fit the child.

Ninja Warrior Chopsticks

Make eating fun. We used to have these when my kids were little and they loved them. I have a friend who’s son is on the keto diet to control seizures. Before he started the bought a bunch of fun plates and utensils. Since he has no choice in what or how much he eats, they let him choose his special dishes. It gives some of the control back to him.

Dinner Winner Kids’ Dinner Plate

I would have laughed at this plate with my first batch of kids. Now? I think Apollo would have loved the challenge aspect of this plate.

Healthy Habits Divided Kids Portion Plate

Pick-Ease

Just another tool to make eating fun, because what kid doesn’t love to poke their food?

I hope these resources have been a help to you. Please leave a comment, I love to hear what other parents and professionals are doing to encourage healthy eating!

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4 Responses

  1. You’ve had quite a few teenagers now. Have any of your others done what Moredecai has done, perhaps to a lesser degree? My non-sensory child who has always been a good eater hit puberty and, bam, stopped eating a stack of stuff he used to love. My main strategy has been to let him know he will enjoy it again one day so that he doesn’t mentally close off to these foods, but it’s different to teaching his sensory brother to try things when he was around 2-6.

    • Interesting that you ask…I have a teen daughter who is having trouble eating….nothing appeals to her, she takes food she used to love and only takes a bite or two. I have just been assuming that it has to do with all the changes in adolescence, metabolism, etc. Give me five years and I might have the answer to that 🙂

      • Paidi Violi

        I don’t know if this will help you in any way, but there were times as a teen that i couldn’t eat cause of exhaustion and stress. Like i was hungry and rushed to eat something i like, even if not nutritious, just to get some energy. After a couple of bites i couldn’t eat more. I slowly returned to normal after changing of scenery and resting (usually visiting grandparents and one time i just went to camp).

        • Thank you for this! I know when Apollo was younger he definitely got too tired to have a good meal. I love your suggestion.

Please share your thoughts!