A Picky Eater Guide: How to Stop a Toddler’s Fussy Eating

Moving onto solids is an exciting time in most parents’ lives, as they cannot wait for their son or daughter to try different flavours. For this reason, you’re bound to feel disappointed if your child is a picky eater. Also, it is natural to feel concerned that their limited diet is affecting their health, growth, and brain development.

Yet, it is important to remember that children will always eat when they are hungry, and it likely isn’t a problem if they’re growing well and appear happy and healthy. The good news is, there are actions you can take for stress-free mealtimes with this picky eater guide. Find out how to stop your toddler’s fussy eating.


Sit Down for Meals as a Family

Toddlers learn by example. If your son or daughter won’t try new foods, refuses to use the spoon, or throws a tantrum if it’s not served their preferred way, try to sit down for meals as a family. It will eliminate distractions during mealtimes, and serving one meal will not encourage picky eating.

Your child will quickly learn they must eat the food served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re worried about your child feeling hungry, add one food they like onto their plate, which should complement healthy, balanced ingredients.

Don’t Pressure Your Picky Eater

It is natural to feel frustrated if your toddler refuses a meal, throws food onto the floor, or has a tantrum at the mere sight of a dish. Rather than pressuring them to eat a meal or punishing them for skipping lunch or dinner, clean away the plates and don’t make a fuss. If your child has enjoyed a healthy breakfast, they might not feel interested in eating throughout the day.

Remember, it is your responsibility to serve the food, but your child must decide to eat it. If you force-feed your child, shout, or punish them, it could lead to a negative relationship with food and many mealtime battles.

Keep Offering Foods

Did you know it can take ten or more times of offering food before a toddler is willing to try it? Even then, it might take much longer for their tastebuds to accept the brand-new flavour. As frustrating as it can be, you must not give up. If your child refuses a food once, continue to serve the same dish at mealtimes and one day they might be willing to try it. Have patience.

Limit Snacks

If your toddler fills up on various snacks throughout the day, they’ll be less likely to eat meals. Rather than allowing them to fill up on yoghurt or chocolate, limit snacks throughout the day to increase their likelihood of trying a new food. It’s one of the most important tips to take away from this picky eater guide.

Involve Your Toddler in Meal Preparation


Encourage your child to develop an interest in food by involving them in meal preparation. For example, as your child to pick a fruit or vegetable to eat for dinner, and encourage them to watch you wash, chop, and cook it. If they’re old enough to do so, you could help them prep a meal using toddler-friendly cutlery. As they have watched the different cooking stages, they might be more likely to try an ingredient or dish.

Introduce Similar Items into Their Diet

If your child enjoys a specific food, try to identify a similar product they might be willing to try. For example, if your toddler loves baked beans, they may gobble up spaghetti. If they love mashed potatoes, the chances are they’ll try sweet potato or pureed carrots. It can introduce your son or daughter to new flavours that could help them develop a love for food. Look for foods with similar colour, texture, and flavour to encourage them to expand their diet.

Make Food Fun

Fussy eaters’ minds could change their minds toward food if it appears fun and friendly. If your child won’t even bite into a sandwich, cut them into stars or other shapes using cookie cutters. Displaying food in creative ways might make mealtime less of a chore and create a more positive experience for your toddler. Rather than fearing their booster seat, they will feel excited for the next interesting meal on their plate.`

Serve Smaller Portions

Large food portions can feel overwhelming for toddlers. Prevent a fear of food by serving smaller plates during mealtimes, and praise your child when they do eat an item, even if it’s only a tiny bite. Positive reinforcement could encourage them to take another bite or give other foods a try in the future.

Invite Good Eaters Over to Dinner


As mentioned, children learn by example and will monitor other children to develop their skills. If you know a child who is a good eater, invite them to dinner. After watching another child eat a dish without complaint, your toddler might be willing to do the same. Also, they might copy their cutlery skills, which is perfect for parents struggling with children who refuse to use a spoon or an open cup.

Invite a Loved One for Dinner

Toddlers often refuse food from their parents to display a level of control. If you suspect this is the case, it might help to invite an adult your child adores for dinner, such as a grandparent or auntie. Rather than serving their lunch or dinner, ask the loved one to place a toddler’s meal on the table and sit with them during mealtime. They may eat the meal without fuss.

Cook Foods in Different Ways

Make items more appealing by serving them in different ways. For example, your child might prefer raw, grated carrots over cooked alternatives, or they might enjoy a toasted sandwich over bread.

Hide Vegetables in Their Favorite Foods

While hiding vegetables in your toddler’s favourite foods won’t stop their picky eating, it is a great way to incorporate more nutrients and fibre into their diet. For instance, if your child loves mash, add in some cooked carrots. If they won’t try cheese but love jacket potato and beans, sprinkle some cheddar over the top.


Picky eating is a common problem among toddlers. As frustrating as it might be, you must remember you’re one of many parents dealing with a fussy eater, and you aren’t to blame for their tantrums at mealtime. As stated, it is your job as their parent to serve the food, and it is up to your child to eat it – and they will if they are hungry enough. If you continue to serve healthy meals, offer a variety of foods, and make mealtimes a more positive experience, the’ will grow out of this phase. In the meantime, you must have patience and try not to blame yourself.

Do you have any advice to add to our picky eater guide? Share your top tips to help other parents make mealtimes a breeze.

READ NEXT >>> How to Stop Wasting Food

You may also like...