Behavioral modification is an important step towards keeping picky eaters on the path to healthy development. Solutions for Picky Eaters include the following:

Being positive role models [1]

  • Offer a new food repeatedly—gradual, repetitive exposures will often result in acceptance [1]
  • Sit with children at meals and snacks [2] [1]
  • Eat what your children eat [2]
  • Plan family meals, which can encourage healthy eating [2] [1]
  • Serve age-appropriate portions [4] [3]

Get children acquainted with foods through meal planning and preparation:

  • Involve children in menu planning, especially for a packed school lunch [1] [2]
  • Let children help in food preparation; let them touch and feel it [1] [2]
  • Allow children to “get messy” when they eat

Make healthy food selections

  • Include a variety of foods from all food groups for a well-balanced diet [5]
  • Encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables—cut into bite-sized portions and keep handy [5] [1]
  • Provide age-appropriate foods [5]

Establish appropriate mealtime environment and routines:

  • Set a schedule for regular meals and snacks [2] [1]
  • Create a calm, relaxed environment for eating [1] [2]
  • Encourage self-feeding [1] [2]
  • Seat children at the table and avoid distractions during meals (e.g. television, toys, etc.) [1] [2]

Familiarize and expose children to new foods frequently:

  • Offer a new food repeatedly—gradual, repetitive exposures will often result in acceptance [1]
  • Let children observe others, especially other children, eating a rejected food [2]


  • Snacking between meals [2]
  • Duration of meals


  • Distraction during the meal time
  • Forcing the child to eat


  • 1Black MM, Hurley KM. Helping children develop healthy eating habits. Rev. ed. In: Tremblay RE, Peters RDeV, Biovin M, Barr RG, eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development; 2007.
  • 2Infant and Toddler Forum. Combining food for a balanced diet. Toddler Factsheet 1.2.
    2006: Accessed October 2010.
  • 3Dubois L, Farmer AP, Girard M, Peterson K. Preschool children’s eating behaviours are related to dietary adequacy and body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(7):846-855.
  • 4Yao MJ, Sheng X, Tong M, et al. Effects of nutrition counseling with and without growing-up milk on growth and micronutrient adequacy in picky eaters: a randomized controlled trial. Evidence Based Child Health: A Cochrane Review Journal. 2011;6(suppl 1):PP125.

About cookies on this site

Our site uses cookies and other technologies so that we, and our partners, can remember you and understand how you use our site. Further use of this site will be considered consent. For more information, visit our Privacy Policy.