Family Wellness: Feeding Picky Eater Tips

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When the triplets were little they would throw handfuls of food on the floor because they refused to eat it! I still refuse to serve rice after one incident of 3 platefuls of sticky rice on the floor! Have you ever tried to clean up sticky rice. Oy!

I was so overwhelmed when I would feed them a meal! I gave into their fight all the time (what?! they ganged up on me! :-) ) Of course I knew what was good for them, but I also was bone tired.  And I just wanted to sleep at night- for crying out loud!


I realize they don’t look very picky here. But, I think I took the picture because they actually LIKED something!! haha!


So, I fed them what I knew they would eat, so they wouldn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.  Tough thing is once you get in this cycle where you feed them what they demand, it is hard to stop it.   Instead of parenting them and choosing good choices, I let them dictate meal time.

But here is what I want you to know.  I did not do this from a place of defeat.  I did it more from a place of survival.  I knew I was choosing this choice at the time.  And that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Not perfect, but not bad.

And I told myself I was going to change what my kids ate when they could understand better.  And, I did follow through. If I could help you avoid some of that crazy toddler pickyness, I would love to!  If you are in the middle of pickyeaterville, know you CAN change where you are, eventually! But, also just embrace where you are.  I was waiting for them to be at the age of understanding that what mama asks of them, they need to obey.  And even meal time can be a place of obedience.  (Um, that sentence just spoke to MY heart!)  That, for us, happened some where between 2 1/2 – 3.


I remember being very excited on this trip because they were eating very well!!! I felt like it was a turning point!


Let me add, some picky eating is the child’s temperament, but some is the parent. (I totally own up to that!) Most kids go through picky stages, and dealing with one picky eater is difficult.  Food is one of the things children do have control over.  And boy is it frustrating when they start using that control!!

Some things we did to help with the picky eater phase:

  • I put what I made for dinner on their plate even if I knew they wouldn’t eat it.  Once they were past the flying fistfuls of food stage (aka they *know* better), they had to try at least one bite.  I did have Warner throw up on me one time when I made him eat peas, but I kept at it. Not at that meal, but the next time peas were served, I said, “Let’s try again!” (I totally faked my excitement and prayed he wouldn’t barf on me again!!) We started with two bites at one meal and I rejoiced over that.  The next meal was also 2 bites.  Then we worked up to 3.  It must have worked!  He now eats peas amazingly well.  Maverick has had a 2 year battle with raw carrots.  He ate 3 the other night at dinner!
  •   We also played this gift-from-heaven game called “whooooo’s the sharky?!’ I told them sharks had sharp teeth and would chomp their food up really well!  Then I would say “whooo’s the sharky’  about 75 times in all sorts of voices at every meal before offering a bite.  They would pretend they were a shark and chomp! chomp! chomp! it up!  This was once they were about 2 1/2 years old.
  • This may be a little unconventional but I was determined for them to get better food into them!  I would spoon feed it to them.  Some how by me asking, ‘Do you want mama to help you?’ softened their little hearts.  Even when they could do it themselves.  It broke down their power of ‘3’, as well. (example: Crews says, I don’t like it!! And the other two refusing to even try it!)  I sometimes still spoon feed my children.  Especially my picky eaters!  I know the goal is independence, and sometimes I loathe shoveling a bite of food into a perfectly capable 4 1/2 year olds’ mouth, but it gets the job done (healthy food in their tummies).  And I can see my work paying off as they feed themselves most of the time now!
  • Added this in a little later:  Finally, we set a timer!  If, we have a pokey eater or terrible complainer, I put the timer on for 10 minutes and say whatever you get finished in this reasonable amount of time, is all you get for this meal.   Usually, it only takes one time for them to not finish their food and to be hungry.  Then, they get the job done.  Mean?  Maybe for an evening, but like I said, I know they have been nourished through out the day.  I’m going for the over all picture of having them eat well.  This worked for us!
Boys at dinner table

Fun game – drew little pictures of the food they had on one side of the paper, and then wrote the number of bites they had to take on the other side. Still some hemming and hawing, but over all a lot better!


What I did with Haven:

  • I didn’t feed her rice cereal as a first food!  Shocker!  I nursed her with out any added food until about 7 months.  Then I offered her teeny tiny bites of food, starting at about 6 months while she was sitting in her high chair.  Started with avocado and soft, cooked veggies, & eggs.  I think this is called baby-led weaning.  I just thought one day that people did not always have baby food!  I did not need to be so dependent on that stuff.  Let me add, I never would have been brave enough to do this with my first child. I was certain I would break my child if I did not go by the parenting books I read.  Or by what my doctor said.  She didn’t break!
  • I also gave her some of the baby food pouches (Elle’s Kitchen- found at Target) starting at 7 months.  I let her do a lot of self feeding, and she has never used this as defiance against me.  I spoon fed Harper and the boys until… um, I still sometimes spoon feed them!
  • She sat in her high chair at meals with us and watched us eat.  With the boys, we fed them first, and then we ate either before or after we fed them.  They did not get to see us eat!  We were in survival mode!  Now I see the importance of them learning to trust what food is good by watching us!
  • She only ate baby food for about a month before being on all soft table food.  Of course, the main nutrition was coming from nursing, so I wasn’t worried.
  • I did not limit what I let her try.  If I had a bite, I would feed her a bite.
  • She LOVES all food & the more ‘savory’ it is, the more she says ‘yum! I yike it!!’

Case in point. Haven eating vegetable soup. The big 4, would act like I was poisoning them because everything is mixed together with red sauce. :-)


One more thing, to help have a more successful dinner, I try not to feed my kids 2-2 & 1/2 hours before dinner.  I know they have had nutrients from breakfast, lunch, & snacks even when they begin to beg for food an hour before dinner.  Hunger isn’t a bad thing.  It is a good thing showing health.  Also, I have learned that when they ask for food, most of the time they are bored, not hungry.

Hope this helps bring a little peace to your home at meal time!


5 thoughts on “Family Wellness: Feeding Picky Eater Tips

  1. Hey ML-
    what a blessing your blog is already to me in my life. Definitely going to take some of these tips and start tomorrow. Since having baby #2, my time alone with the Lord is non existant most days. Thanks heavens for grace. I, too, still spoon feed Lyla from time to time to get the good stuff in her. So glad to see I am not alone in that. :) I have worried that I would set her back.

    • You won’t set her back at all!! I love seeing all your IG pics! Lyla is soo cute!! And congrats on your new babe, too!!

  2. Hi Mary Lindsey, I am a friend of Elizabeth Ligon and have met Nancy a few times – I followed your family’s story on your other blog and am so excited that you’ve started a new one. This post was great for me to read! My daughter is almost 7 months old and she is really starting to show interest in solid foods… she’ll wolf down a whole avocado if I let her! Because she seems to really hate purees I’ve mostly been doing small bites of soft foods with her and my instincts tell me to let her try more foods that I feel comfortable with just because I’ve read so much about what order you’re supposed to introduce foods, etc. So, this was very timely and a great confidence boost. Thank you!

    • That is so wonderful! As long as her tummy stays alright and you don’t notice any rashes, have a wonderful time watching her enjoy foods!! It is so much fun!!!

  3. Hey Mary! I just wanted to know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award over on my blog, Our Yellow Door! I think your blog is lovely and I think others should know about it! Another blogger nominated me and gave me a couple questions to answer. It’s pretty much a way for bloggers to get to know other bloggers. I included a link to your blog at the bottom of my Liebster post, and listed out a few questions for you to answer if you would like. No pressure though…you have a lot of things to blog about, and I just wanted to let my readers know about you :)

    P.S. – If I ever have kids, I will definitely use these tips 😉

    Under Grace,

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