Overcoming the Picky Eater

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Is your baby a picky eater? Are there foods she doesn’t like? Is there a food she used to like but suddenly doesn’t? Do not just let your baby decide she hates it and move on. Do not give up on the food. If you want to avoid a picky preteen, you need to overcome the picky baby. I have a couple of tried and true ideas for you to try out.

Overcoming the Picky Eater

When McKenna first tried peaches, she hated them. This was nothing new for me. Brayden hated them. Kaitlyn hated them. With both Brayden and Kaitlyn, I basically just didn’t feed peaches to them very often. Not so with McKenna!

I think my motivation was that I had lots of free peaches from my husband’s grandparents. I didn’t want to let them go to waste! So I put the effort into getting her to like it.

I started by mixing the peaches with some oatmeal. I did only one tablespoon of peaches mixed with 2-3 T of cereal. At first, she wasn’t so sure about it. Over time, she came to like the mixture.

After 3-4 weeks of doing this, I tried giving her peaches plain. She liked them! She just needed time to get used to the taste. I still mix her peaches with her oatmeal each morning, but I do 2-4 T mixed with 3-4 T of oatmeal. I also do this for my own convenience rather than needing to get her to like peaches.

Read: Feeding The Littles: Tips for Nurturing Good Eaters

Huh? My kid hates it and you want me to feed it to her every day? Yes. Yes I do.

When McKenna first tried squash, she loved it. This surprised me since I, myself, do not find squash all that appealing. After about a month of loving it, she suddenly decided she hated it. She would clamp her mouth shut after a few bites.

Again, I had free squash to use. I didn’t want the bags of baby ice cube squash to go to waste. I knew I would be hesitant to feed it to her if she didn’t like it because I didn’t want her to go hungry. I feed orange veggies at dinner and didn’t want her to be hungry in the night because she didn’t eat her squash.

I normally rotate each night. One night is squash. The next is sweet potatoes. The next carrots. But I decided I needed to mix it up. I decided to feed her 2 T each night. I would then follow up with either sweet potatoes or carrots (alternating).

For the first few nights, she gagged and made the disgusted face. She would barely eat 2 T. By the end of the first week, she would eat the 2 T without complaint. I then increased the amount to 4 T. She is currently eating 4 T each night without complaint. I think she is ready to go back onto her normal rotation.

These are the two things that have worked really well with McKenna. For more ideas, see Picky Eaters.


 Appetite vs. Hunger  How to get picky eaters to eat  Are picky eaters born or made?

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. The Lubbers Family
    October 23, 2009 / 4:31 PM

    I second the repeated feedings advice. My homemade baby food book said some times it takes up to 12 times of trying a food before babies will accept it without complaint. But I also read in Parenting magazine, that children will refuse foods less when offered in rotation. Maybe persistence and rotation is the answer:)

  2. Kim
    October 23, 2009 / 7:01 PM

    Maybe this is a silly question, but is one cube 2T? I can't imagine you having the time to measure out 2T or 4T – I know I don't and I only have one kid. Just wondering because I don't measure my daughter's food. Thanks!

  3. Salina
    October 23, 2009 / 9:57 PM

    I actually read it took 21 times trying a new food to become accustomed and accept. I keep this in mind with my 2 year old as well. Many times just by looking at it, my son says "I don't like it." But before I will give him anything else, I'll get him to try it, and more times than not, he'll change his mind and say "yum, that's good." Also, lots of times I feed James in courses- feeding him the less desirable foods first (usually the veggies) to get him to try several bites before I give him things I know he will eat like bread. Even when he eats sandwiches, to get him to finish the veggies in his sandwich, I only give a fourth of the sandwich at a time, and if he wants more, he'll eat the tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, or whatever before I'll give him more. And because of doing this he's now used to eating the sandwich with the veggies, and will eat it without pulling them out now. If there is some veggie that he really needs to like because it's nutritious and we eat it often as a family- like brocolli for example, I try it many different ways- in pasta, rice or chicken dishes, or stir fries. He gets the exposure and grows to like it- in many different ways. I have always been told that James is a great eater, but I think the way I have been consistent and had him to try a wide variety of foods has made a big difference.

  4. rachelhockey
    October 24, 2009 / 2:05 AM

    Our 9 month old can be picky, too. It is mostly with her vegetables. Mixing them with her cereal helps, and also mixing them with yogurt. She loves anything if it's mixed with yogurt! One other thing that we have learned is that sometimes she just won't eat her veggies from a spoon at all, but she will eat them from toast or our fingers. Very strange… but we do what we can to get her to eat them!

  5. Kim
    October 24, 2009 / 12:13 PM

    Rachel, I kind of have the same problem with my almost 9 month old. This is just with green veggies, though. She would not eat them from a spoon in puree form so I just gave them to her whole and she loved them. I think maybe she doesn't like the texture when pureed. And my baby will eat anything mixed with yogurt too!

  6. Plowmanators
    November 23, 2009 / 6:54 PM

    Lubbers,I think a good point you make is that different things can work for different kids. Good to try out different things to see what is best for your little one.

  7. Plowmanators
    November 23, 2009 / 6:56 PM

    Kim, for most ice cube trays, 2 T is one cube. It is a good idea to measure your ice cube trays to know (if you want to).I didn't know exactly how much Brayden ate at each meal. He was very good at stopping when he was full and I just fed him until he was done. Kaitlyn hated baby food and wasn't the best eater with it, so I started really watching what she ate. McKenna is a good eater, but I am just still in the habit of watching and knowing what is normal for her.

  8. Plowmanators
    November 23, 2009 / 6:57 PM

    Thanks Salina! Those are good tips. BTW, I have been trying to send you messages on FB but it won't work. I will keep trying, though!

  9. Plowmanators
    November 23, 2009 / 6:58 PM

    lol Rachel! Whatever works 🙂

  10. Momnherjunebugs
    August 30, 2011 / 1:55 PM

    I'd love some tips to use on my 15 month old. Shortly after turning 1, she refused baby food all together, but now I am having a tought time getting her to eat a blalanced meal. The only fresh fruit I can get her to regularly eat is catelope, watermelon and bananas. Everything else she spits out. I've been trying grapes for months! Veggies? Forget about it.I'm at a loss b/c my 3 year old was very easy..I could steam or roast beets and she'd gobble them down. My baby however, refused sweet potatoes even with brown sugar on them..Arg!

  11. Plowmanators
    September 20, 2011 / 4:20 AM

    Momnherjunebugs,There are a few things:1-continue to put those foods in front of her. 2-you eat them in front of her and show how much you love it. comment on how yummy it is and love it. 3-Find ways to sneak the nutrients in her food (like in the recipes from Deceptively Delicious). If she won't eat them, the most important thing is she gets what she needs. I would work on having her take one bite of each thing each meal if you can–but don't make it a battle ground. You can make it fun with trains and planes and such.

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