A little eater who does not pick and choose when it comes to food are few and far between. Almost all toddlers become selective when it comes to food, and the naturally pickier ones can be quite a handful. Ideally, mealtimes should be a pleasant bonding time for the family, but this is often punctuated with pouting and resistance as parents try to encourage the kids to develop a taste for healthy greens.

Nutrition is vital for the physical development and growth of little children, and thus we bring to you several methods to deal with a picky eater - distilled from the experience and trial-and-error methods of mums everywhere!


Rule #1: The Power of Blending

Taste partiality has its roots in our evolutionary past, and newborns tend to favor sweet, salty and fatty foods over the relatively bland, maybe bitter taste of fresh vegetables. However, for the most part, food preferences can be learnt and cultivated over a period of time. This is where the technique of blending food shines, also known as conditioning (not in a negative way!)

Mixing your newborn’s favorite foods together with a little bit of greens, for instance, can help them grow an acquired taste for these healthy foods. This is not unlike coffee, which is a drink that is liked upon repeated consumption. This means that food and drink are liked when consumed on a regular basis, so much so as to become an acquired taste.

Try combining a little bit of a food that baby refuses to eat, together with the food that they particularly love. Gradually reduce the portion of the favored food, while increasing the portion of food that they have not yet developed a taste for. For example, introduce your baby to the taste of broccoli by making a puree with potatoes and a dash of salt – one of the more popular flavors among babies.


Rule #2: Eating Together

“Monkey see, monkey do.” Well, it turns out babies are not much different. They subconsciously absorb information from their surroundings; if you’re a picky eater that constantly leaves food on your plate, chances are high that your baby will, too. So set a good example! When your baby begins on solid food, coordinate your mealtimes so that a daily routine of together meals can be established.

Eating together means your baby can take her time to finish her food. Mealtimes should be a positive experience, so don’t force your child to eat if they are reluctant to; this will only lead to negativity and further aversion to the food in question. It’ll be much more helpful to reason with them why certain foods are essential, and to give them positive encouragement for eating in a healthy way.


Rule #3: Lead, Don’t Follow

Don’t let your baby dictate what she eats, at least not all the time. Many parents allow this to happen, and in so doing neglect the nutritional content of baby’s food. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourage parents to decide on the food types for their babies, instead of being swayed by baby’s preferences.

"Children will not become ill or suffer permanently if they refuse a meal or two, but parents sometimes act as though youngsters might shrivel up and die.”

  • Guide to Your Child's Nutrition

Prepare a warm, healthy, and age-appropriate meal for your baby or toddler, and that will be sufficient. If your child is hungry enough, they would eat just about anything. In this manner, a short-term sacrifice would lead to long-term gains, in healthy eating habits.

According to the 3-Bite Rule for children, it takes roughly three chomps for children to learn that the foods they dislike are not harmful, and are in fact good for them. Following this train of thought, the first bite is going to be the hardest to achieve. Discovering a new taste should be light-hearted and enjoyable; in fact, it can take up to 20 exposures for children to like the more challenging foods! So keep at it, and remember that exposing your child’s palate to a plethora of healthy foods is more akin to a marathon, rather than a sprint. We do hope that you have success in training your child’s eating habits!


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