Are you serving chicken nuggets, pizza, or plain tacos for dinner every night? If you have a picky eater, the answer is probably yes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), picky eating is often the norm for toddlers. After the rapid growth of infancy, when babies usually triple in weight, a toddler’s growth rate – and appetite – tends to slow down, says AAP.
For younger children, experts say this behavior is typical. For older children, food avoidance can be tied to health-related issues such as undernourishment or anxiety.
“Picky eating might reach a clinical level for a number of different reasons. Some kids have a heightened sense of smell that makes them taste flavors more intensely than most people,” Rachel Ehmke, managing editor at the Child Mind Institute, said in an article. “Others limit their diets because they have problems with anxiety.”
Share your concerns with your pediatrician. Try different strategies to ensure your child eats more well-balanced and nutritious meals. Experts suggest that families offer their picky eaters a variety of healthy meal options, and their appetite and eating habits will change over time. In other words, picky eaters might eat a plain taco until they taste it with tomatoes or lettuce, and so on, and so on. Before you know it, your little one may be eating burritos. The resources below will help you understand some reasons for picky eating, when you should worry, possible treatment plans, simple tips to get them to eat, and healthy snack ideas.
- How do I help my picky eater try more healthy foods?
- Picky Eating: What’s Normal and What’s Not
- 10 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters
- Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for picky eaters
- How to handle picky eaters
- The 6 Types of Picky Eater—And How to Get Them to Eat
Healthy Holiday Snacks
During the hectic holidays, picky eaters can be the source of frustration for busy parents and families. The bottom line is no one wants to make an extra pizza after accommodating the vegetarians, vegans, food allergies, and gluten or dairy-free diets for holiday dinner. From Grinch Fruit Kabobs to Eggless Eggnog, take the time to create some holiday magic with your little one. Here are MFE’s Top 20 Recipes for holiday snack ideas that your children will love to make and eat. For these tasty, healthy treats, purchase plenty of fruit, veggies, cheese, nuts (if there are no allergies), and flour.
- Grinch Fruit Kabobs
- Eggless Eggnog
- Pecan Pie Energy Bites
- Rudolph Celery Snacks
- Peanut Butter Dip
- Healthy Strawberry Santas
- Holiday Party Veggie Wreath
- Banana Snowmen
- Chocolate Dipped Apple Slices
- Apple, Carrot, Lemon, and Cinnamon Cake
- Sesame Cheese Biscuits
- Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Granola
- Gingerbread Breakfast Smoothie
- Snowflake Quesadillas
- Superfood Chocolate Bark
- Egg Snowman
- Munch of the Penguins
- Frozen Yogurt Bark
- Snowflake Tortilla Crisps
December 22 is #NationalCookieExchangeDay
Let’s face it: children deserve a treat! Make today one of the sweetest days ever by sharing your favorite cookie recipes or, perhaps, share your homemade cookies. This memorable holiday dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe. It was all about biscuits with cinnamon, ginger, and dried fruit for these early cookie lovers. During the 17th Century, the Dutch brought their yummy cookies to the U.S.
Today, you can enjoy a cookie or two without a lot of added sugar. Here are a few healthy options with little or no sugar added.
- Fruitcake Cookies
- Almond Cookies
- Pecan Sandies
- Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
December is Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month!
Carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and beets: get to the root of your picky eater! This holiday season, try to incorporate as many root vegetables into your holiday meals as possible. Remember: your little picky eater needs options to develop a more well-balanced diet. Now is the time to “rediscover our roots” by exploring some traditional dishes recommended by the USDA.
November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month!
For many families, the holiday meal is not complete without candied sweet potatoes or sweet potato pie. However, the healthiest sweet potatoes are boiled to retain more nutrients. Discover with children how sweet potatoes look, feel, smell, and taste. Celebrate National Sweet Potato Month by taking a trip with your family to Sweet Potato Hill at Tasty Acres Farm!
MFE Nutrition Collection
Discover fun nutrition tips, creative recipes, and more with The MFE Nutrition Collection on the resources page. New resources are coming! So visit the Nutrition Collection often.
- MFE Presents: Healthy Green Families
- The MSDE Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs
- Cook’s Corner: Recipes for Healthy Snacks
- At-Home Smart Snacking for Children
- Fun Children’s Books about Healthy Food
- This Summer, Eat Smart to Play Hard (A Parents’ Guide)
- Tips for Teachers: Promoting Healthy Eating