5 Tips To Make Mealtime a Success for Your Picky Eater

As a parent of a picky eater, meal time can be one of the most challenging events of the day. Sometimes the dinner table feels like a professional sport that I am seemingly unprepared for. When I began my search for helpful tips, I quickly found that nothing quite fit the bill. So with lots of trail and error, I found five tips that work best for our family.

Make meal time a success with these tips for helping picky eaters

5 Tips To Help Your Picky Eaters

1. Prepare Meals Together

My daughter is more likely to eat a new meal when she has had a hand in preparing the food. I typically don’t even have to remind her to take bites, leaving time for a more enjoyable dinner conversation. An added bonus is her boost in kitchen confidence. She is always so proud to tell everyone that she made the meal. It is also a great way to spend some extra time together. My daughter is usually the most talkative during meal prep. Learning about all her preschool adventures is the best part of my day.

2. Portion Size

A large plate of food can make any child feel overwhelmed, but especially a picky eater. It’s important to follow your child’s lead. If your child eats two of the four chicken nuggets and five of the ten carrot sticks on his/her plate, then change the portion size to reflect that. I have found this small adjustment leads to an easy eating experience with a request for second helpings. 

3. Conversation With Movement 

Find a topic your picky eater enjoys. Engaging in meaningful conversation can relieve any meal time anxiety. Diving into my child’s imagination encourages the sweetest, most relaxing dinner conversation. Intertwining conversation with movement is the perfect concept for an energetic, picky eater. So while engaging my child in conversation, I allow her the flexibility to stand and move near her chair. This allows meal time to feel more enjoyable than restrictive. 

4. Schedule   

Children thrive on schedule. The same is true for mealtime. After some troubleshooting, I have found that keeping meals and snacks within the same time frame every day led to fewer meltdowns. Instead of arguing over food, we are able to enjoy time as a family.

5. Take A Break 

Meal time with a picky eater can be exhausting. So parents, I give you permission to take a break. Pull out the box of sugary cereal, because the bottom line is, they will eat it.

Having a picky eater can be challenging, but it can also force you to think outside the box, giving mealtime a creative spin. For more mealtime inspiration, check out these 7 tips for raising healthy eaters.

Do you have a picky eater in your home? What are your best tips and tricks for making meal time a success?


Nikki Wildemuth
Nikki is new to the area. She graduated from the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She married her husband the same year. Nikki loved the creativity of teaching and continues to bring that same creativity as a stay at home mom. During the day you can find her chasing after her precocious toddler. By night she is a Pinterest junkie! She enjoys getting out and spending time with her family!


  1. Great tips! One thing that has helped us too is chaining new foods off of preferred foods, like trying a squash soup that looks a lot like the potatoe soup that he likes. Then we talk about how the foods are the same and how they are different.


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