Ugh! the trials and tribulations of dealing with a picky eater child. “I don’t like it!”  “It’s gross!”  “My food is touching!”

Then there is a power struggle, usually followed by tears, and we end up caving in and reaching for the chicken nuggets. Again.

Which can lead to a little bit of mom guilt, because you really want your child to expand their options so they eat a more healthy mix of foods.

We get it! Dealing with a fussy eater is not easy.

If your son or daughter is less than keen on eating anything leafy or green (or anything that isn’t mac and cheese for that matter) we totally feel your pain.

To help, we’ve rounded up our top ten tips and tricks to get your picky eater child to eat vegetables.

Other mammas have successfully used some or all of these tips to expand their child’s food horizons, and they can work for you too.

Just be patient. The path to healthy eating is a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep at it. Your persistence will pay off by helping your child develop a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.


10 Tips To Get My Picky Eater Child To Try Vegetables


1. Model Healthy Eating

Kids are mimics, as you well know because you hear them repeating everything you say. The same is true about eating behaviors.

If your picky kids see you eating junk on the run and not making vegetables a part of your daily meal routine, they won’t be inclined to eat them either.

But if they see you make vegetables a diet staple, then vegetables become the norm and they won’t know meals without them are even an option.


2. Get Em’ Involved!

Kids are more apt to participate in the eating part if they are part of the prep work.

Let your picky eater child pick a vegetable from the market they want to eat and have them help out in the kitchen.

This pre-work builds excitement, and will make them more open to trying their veggie creation come dinnertime.

The same is true for having your kids help plant and pick vegetables from your yard.

picky eater child
Getty Images


3. The “One-Bite” Rule

Study after study shows that it takes a child 8-10 times of being exposed to a food they don’t initially like before they will accept it. Make a one-bite rule in your house and enforce it.  

Have your picky toddler eat at least one full bite of an un-liked veggie before they can call it quits with a meal.

Over time, the repeated exposure will make them more comfortable with the food and they may begin to like it. 


4. Banish The “Clean Plate” Club

You convince your child to eat one bite of peas and they wrinkle their nose at the rest on their plate. That’s okay.

They followed the one-bite rule, don’t force them to clean their plate.

If you push them farther, eating healthy becomes a “punishment” and will have a negative connotation in your child’s mind.

This isn’t a productive way to change a behavior. It will more likely start a fight or increase picky eating tendencies.  

Sticking with the one bite rule over time helps change children’s picky eating habits for the long-term.


5. Make Believe

Vegetables can be scary or gross to kids if they haven’t tried them before.

But, what if broccoli is actually a little baby tree and your child is a dinosaur that needs to eat trees to survive?

Or what if your kid is a bunny that loves to eat carrots? That’s a lot more fun!

Kids love make-believe games. Use that to your advantage and work a little creative storytelling into your vegetable routine.

It’s one way to outsmart a fussy eating child.


6. Use Positive Reinforcement 

Anytime your picky eater child branches out and eats a few bites of a once rejected vegetable, reward them!

Let them know how happy it makes you, give them stickers or other positive reinforcements for adopting new eating behaviors.

In this way they will learn to associate trying new foods with a positive outcome. 


7. Try Food Shapes

Kids like it when their food is made into patterns and shapes, it makes eating more appealing for them.

Try shaping vegetables into a smiley face, or their initials, or some other fun pattern. They’ll see eating it as a fun activity, not a chore.


8. Bright Colors – But Separately

Kids tend to like bright colorful foods, so mix it up! But not literally, because kids also like their food to be separated.

Offer several colors of vegetables, but break them up so they’re not touching.

A product we really love for picky eaters is the ezpz Happy Mat. It’s an all-in-one plate and placemat that suctions to the table, which eliminates the mess of tipped bowls and plates.

It also has compartments to keep food separate, for picky kiddos who don’t want their food to touch.

Plus the ezpz mat’s smiley face design makes eating more fun!

ezpz Happy Mat


9. Use Flavor Enhancers

You’re trying to get your picky kids onboard with the concept of veggies. Now may not be the time to go super healthy too.

Steamed broccoli may be on the adult menu, but you might want to add a little butter, cheese or bacon to get a picky eater child onboard.

Once they accept a food, you can experiment with making it healthier.


10. Be Persistent!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a vegetable loving kid. You want to lay the groundwork for good eating habits your children will carry into adulthood.

There will be battles, but when the going gets tough… be consistent.

You want to get your picky eater child to eat more vegetables? Keep enforcing the one-bite rule and trying new and creative ways to make veggies fun. You can do this!


Help For Picky Eaters – Books:


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