“Sometimes having the kids help cook a meal or portion of the meal makes it more fun to eat. I even went so far as to use cookie cutters on bone- less chicken breasts and breaded (wheat germ + crumbs), baked and played circus with the animals” ~ Lori Roth SLP and mom of a picky eater
A Few Feeding Strategies for Picky Eaters
Consistency – When I work with babies and toddlers who have trouble moving from pureed to more solid food I usually suggest to the families to try and crumble up pieces of saltines or other types of easily dissolvable crackers. I’ve always liked the way the crackers can be crumbled into little bits and mixed with the baby food or pureed food. The SLP suggested that, as long as there are no allergies, a better solution to getting the puree a little thicker would be to use Wheat Germ. She suggested that although the crackers would work they don’t always allow the consistency to be uniform and there are sometimes bigger pieces that might be more of a challenge when going from puree to solids. Wheat germ can be used to gradually increase the consistency of purees but without the possible unexpected lumps that crackers can cause. It is also packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein.You can also add more wheat germ to the puree until it is quite thick and roll it into small balls that the toddlers can try to pick up and eat. The small balls would still dissolve very easily once they are placed in the mouth making for a successful finger fed piece of food.
“Utensils” – When encouraging a child who has been solely tube fed learn how to begin to be an oral feeder its ok to use other things besides a spoon and fork. I have always been a fond user of the medicine cup and eye dropper to begin to get tastes into a child’s mouth safely Sometimes seeing a spoon full of food heading to your mouth can be a scary thing for a child who is not use to eating. It’s a little different if a small amount of food has been placed in a small medicine cup or in an eye dropper and gently “poured” into their mouth in small amounts. It’s also much easier when using either one of these items to accurately keep a record of exactly how much food they are taking.
Distraction – Distraction can work wonders! I do not feel it is wrong to start off using distraction when encouraging children to eat. Watching a favorite T.V. program or playing with a favorite toy in the beginning is okay. We want the child to become more comfortable at mealtime and not to be stressed. It’s not that a child will forever be watching the T.V. in order to eat – it’s a way to help them begin to enjoy eating. For older children who may not be active eaters I’ve found it helps to have fun at the mealtime so it’s not so much a chore. We’ve used a small shovel from a sand box toy to use instead of a spoon. The child thought it was so much fun to use something different that they didn’t realize just how much they were eating. For older children we’ve used colorful toothpicks to pick up food. My own son wouldn’t eat Salisbury steak unless we used toothpicks in cut up pieces and then he would eat two helpings.
Spit Cup/Napkin – I am a huge fan of the child being able to spit something out they may not want to eat. I know I have shared this before but it bears repeating. Think of the one food that no matter what you do with it you just cannot bear to eat it – to swallow it. When you have a child who doesn’t want to eat it could be for a number of causes. Many children have experienced pain due to acid reflux and don’t want to go through that pain again. Even if they are now on medication they still remember eating being painful. the best way to get them to gain trust in eating again is to allow them to taste the food without the fear of having to swallow it. This can be done with allowing them to spit into a cup or to spit into a napkin.
At dinner time you would use the same cup each time or use the same colored napkin. This is a cue to the child that when they sit down to eat they can feel comfortable knowing they won’t have to swallow. It won’t mean that they will always spit out all their food. What it means is that they will be so much more willing to lick the food or take a bite of the food because they won’t have the fear that they will have to swallow it and feel pain. At first they may just take a bite and spit it out right away. After a couple times they will take a bite and hold it in their mouths a little longer before spitting it out. Eventually they will take a bite and chew it a couple times and then spit it out. Before you know it they will be taking a bite, chewing, and swallowing it.
It takes a little patience but I have allowed a spit cup to be used since my kids were young. We moved to a spit napkin when they got older so it was more accepting when they were out. To this day, my kids are now 14 years-old and 20-years-old, I can present them with any type of food and they will take a bite. I can’t even begin to share how many different foods they’ve tried and come to like thanks to this method. Just the other night my 14-year-old tried the green beans at dinner that I cooked a new way and actually asked for seconds! If there is no fear of having to swallow children are more likely to try new foods…or to even sit and try eating at meal time.
These are just a few strategies that may be worth trying when it comes to working with picky eaters. The first thing should always be ruling out any underlying medical issue that may be causing the child discomfort or pain when eating. The last thing we want to do is set up a feeding plan that is sure to fail if the underlying cause of the “pickiness” is due to a medical issue. More
STEPS TO EATING The Hierarchy to Eating by Kay Toomey, PhD
Step 1: TOLERATE
*being in the same room*being at the table with food on the other side of the table*being at the table with food 1/2 way across the table*being at the table with the food approximately in front of the child*looks at food when directly in front of child
Step 2: INTERACTS WITH
- assists in preparation/set up with food*uses utensils or a container to stir or pour food/drink*uses utensils or container to serve self
Step 3: SMELLS
- odor in room
- odor at table
- odor directly in front of child
- leans down or picks up to smell
Step 4: TOUCH
- fingertips, finger pads
- whole hand
- chest, shoulder
- top of head
- chin, cheek
- nose, underneath nose
- tip of tongue, full tongue
Step 5: TASTE
- licks lips, tongue licks food
- bites off piece & spits out immediately
- bites piece, holds in mouth for “X” seconds & spits out
- bites, chews “X” times & spits out
- chews, partially swallows
- chews, swallows with drink
- chews and swallows independently
- describe the properties of the food while it is in front of you
- you manipulate food in a creative/educational way near/in front of child
- child watches food preparation because it is interesting
- food is passed in front of child; directly in front of face
- place food on a napkin or table next to child and move closer to child as tolerates (without drawing attention to this, over the course of the meal)
- place food on edge of plate and move closer as tolerates
- have child pass food container to another
- have child serve self or another family member with a utensil
- .child helps with food preparation using utensils
- child stirs with a utensil or other food (e.g. pretzel rod)
- child manipulates outer wrapper
- child pushes one food with another food (making a train)
- child puts one food into another (making faces, making b-day cakes with candles)
- child blows on food to tip it over or move along the plate/surface
- have child in kitchen while food is being cooked
- helps prepare foods with utensils or hands
- peeling, cutting, stirring
- waving food in front of face ( mimicking fans, airplanes, wiggle worms, “teaching physics of food”)
- bringing the food near the nose (make mustaches, whiskers, beards, lipstick, clown noses)
- model leaning down and exaggerating smelling (“Hmmm…Ahhh”)
- building with food (making trains, steps, bridges, rainbows, letters, shapes)
- painting with foods (shapes, letters, pictures, faces, etc)
- driving foods and driving foods under other foods (peanuts make great boats and cars)
- inch worm up the hand, arm, shoulder, cheeks, etc
- driving to the cave (mouth)
- kissing foods, foods kissing you
- pretending the food is lipstick, rubbing food on lips
- flicking onto plate, into bowl
- serving yourself with your hands
- scraping with hands into trash; throwing away foods on the table
- making food into objects you can wear (earrings, glasses, necklace, bows in hair, rings, etc)
- smashing, crunching, breaking, ripping, tearing with hands
- cookie cutters
- give food hugs
- tapping the food on the teeth
- balancing the food on your nose
- hanging the food from lower lip
- holding food on/above your upper lip with no hands
- sliding down the slide/ski slope (= your nose)
- sticking the food to parts of the body (forehead, cheek, hand, nose, chin)
- being a puppy with a bone
- holding food in teeth, no hands
- kissing food
- driving into mouth
- blowing out of mouth
- hold in teeth then push out with tongue
- licking (“make it wet, like a puppy does”, lick it like an ice-cream cone)
- listen to the noises it makes when biting/crunching
- imitate brushing teeth with food
- making a popping noise pulling foods out of mouth
- exaggerated chewing with noise and head movement
- licking food from fingers
- hold bite of food in back teeth, spit out
- bite off small pieces, then spit out quickly
- touch to tip of tongue fast
- playing peek-a-boo on tongue
- counting chews
- “1, 2, 3” everyone licks, bites etc
Dr. Kay Toomey is a pediatric psychologist who has worked for nearly 30 years, with children who don’t eat. She is the developer of the highly effective, family-centered SOS Approach to Feeding in successful use worldwide to assess and treat children with feeding problems. In addition to directing SOS Feeding Solutions at STAR Center, Dr. Toomey speaks nationally and internationally about her approach. She also acts as a consultant to Gerber Products. Dr. Toomey helped establish The Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oral Feeding Clinic in Denver and Rose Medical Center’s Pediatric Feeding Center, also in Denver. Dr. Toomey co-chaired the Pediatric Therapy Services Department at Rose Medical Center prior to entering private practice. She is currently the president of Toomey & Associates, Inc., which provides her speaking services.
Feeding Infants and Toddlers American Speech Language Hearing Association Strategies for Safe, Stress-free Mealtimes. PDF
“If he won’t accept a new food the first few times, don’t give up. Just be patient and try it again. It may take up to 10 tries before he accepts it” ~Gerber video on Picky Eaters
Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for picky eaters
If children’s nutrition is a sore topic in your household, you’re not alone. Many parents worry about what their children eat — and don’t eat. However, most kids get plenty of variety and nutrition in their diets over the course of a week. Until your child’s food preferences mature, consider these tips for preventing mealtime battles.
No. 1: Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one
If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.
No. 2: Stick to the routine
Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. Provide juice or milk with the food, and offer water between meals and snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice or milk throughout the day might decrease his or her appetite for meals.
No. 3: Be patient with new foods
Young children often touch or smell new foods, and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.
No. 4: Make it fun
Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.
No. 5: Recruit your child’s help
At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.
No. 6: Set a good example
If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.
No. 7: Be creative
Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices, or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.
No. 8: Minimize distractions
Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating. Keep in mind that television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary foods.
No. 9: Don’t offer dessert as a reward
Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.
No. 10: Don’t be a short-order cook
Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal might promote picky eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the designated mealtime — even if he or she doesn’t eat. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.
If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, consult your child’s doctor. In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days. The big picture might help ease your worries. A food log can also help your child’s doctor determine any problems. In the meantime, remember that your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Here is some information about feeding problems from Peggy S. Eicher MD, Medical Director: of the Center for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing at St. Joseph Children’s Hospital New Jersey
“Kids Can Cook – And Learning Is the Secret Ingredient!
- Most children learn quickly that eating is fun. They also enjoy helping adults cook. Put the two together and you have the perfect recipe for learning. Children learn best when they’re busy and interested in what they are doing. When children are busy scrubbing, mixing, stirring, kneading, spreading, tossing, squeezing, and pouring, they don’t realize there’s a special ingredient that you’re adding: It’s called learning!
- Cooking involves reading and talking. There is much to talk about as a recipe is read, followed, and prepared.
- Children learn math skills through counting, measuring, and following step-by-step directions.
- Science is learned as children see how food changes during cooking. They learn about hot and cold, floating and sinking, dissolving, melting, and freezing.
- Good nutrition is encouraged through cooking. Seeing exactly what goes into a recipe helps children learn to make better decisions about the food they eat.
- Children can learn about and connect with other cultures as they prepare foods from various cultural groups.
- Thinking skills are developed as children learn to compare and make relationships in food preparation. If we use too much flour in our cookie recipe, the result is a dry, hard cookie. Proportions are easily mastered when children learn that if you double the ingredients in the cookie recipe, you get double the cookies.
- Social skills are practiced in cooking when children work together, take turns, and solve problems. Most importantly, self- esteem abounds when children prepare foods for themselves and others.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Good cooks of all ages always wash their hands before cooking.
- Tell children to wait until the dish is done before sampling it. This will help prevent illness.
- Expect spills and messes.
- Children have short attention spans. Give them quick, simple jobs, and give instructions one at a time.
- Children get excited and forget. Repeat directions as often as needed.
- Young cooks need constant supervision.
- Give children jobs to help with cleanup.”
The Finicky Eater
- Help! My child is very picky! The list of foods he will accept is very short.
The Poor Eater
- My child won’t eat anything. I have done everything I know to do, but she just won’t eat a thing. What should I do?
The Obese Child
- My child eats too much. He is quite chubby and I really worry that he will grow up to be fat.
(a direct link to this page for helpful advise)
1. Increase the tactile input of the food by mixing textures. Add sliced fruit to yogurt and applesauce. Use milk sparingly on dry cereal to maintain crunchiness. Spread peanut butter on celery, or ranch dip on raw vegetables.
2. Avoid giving large pieces of food such as bagels or a hard roll. While the texture of these foods is good for chewing, children tend to sink their teeth in and rip off pieces rather than biting or chewing. Cut bagels, sandwiches, etc., into finger width strips for easier biting and chewing.
3. Increase the taste of foods with flavorings. You may experiment with spices not commonly used by children, such as pepper, Tabasco, mint or garlic.
4. Cut meats into small cubes to stimulate rotary chewing Cut raw vegetables into french-fry shaped strips.
5. Vary the temperatures of foods presented.. Freeze peas or cut up grapes for cold snacks. Serve warm (not hot) drinks through a straw. Prepare frozen fruit drinks and ask the child to identify flavor combinations.
6. Play food identification games. Cube some raw fruits and vegetables. Have the child close his/her eyes and place a cube in his/her mouth. Ask the child to identify the food by taste. Talk about texture, temperature and taste. You can also present warm cocoa/chocolate milk through a straw and ask the child to identify the temperature.
1. Make a point to set a calm, relaxing tone for the mealtime. Control the lighting, sound and movement in the eating environment.
2. Establish “sitting behaviors”:
- Make sure the child is in a comfortable, well-supported seat.
- Have small fidget toys or books at the table to entice the child to sit.
- Make a placemat out of photos or pictures of favorite items and cover it with clear contact paper to give the child something for visual focus.
- Start with 5 minute increments (working up to 15 minutes) to encourage success. But… once the child leaves the table, mealtime is over.
3. Help the child establish regular hunger-satiation cycles by limiting eating to mealtimes and scheduled snacks. Contact your pediatrician to learn about appropriate serving sizes recommended for your child’s age. They are probably smaller than you think.
4. Discontinue all sip-cup use. Discourage your child from walking around with a juice cup in his/her hand. Drinks can by served in flip-top cups with internal straws, juice boxes, or sports bottles with straws on the go. Open cup drinking should be encouraged at all mealtimes.
5. Some children snack (chew) or drink (suck) for organizational, calming and
arousing purposes. Replace the snacks with other positive oral behaviors.
Increase frequency of tooth brushing.
Toothbrush with an electric toothbrush.
Allow oral exploration with hand-held massager.
Oral motor toys (whistles, bubble blowers)
More oral motor tips
Recent Studies On Picky Eaters
Dec 14 2011 (Reuters) – If your preschoolers turn up their noses at carrots or celery, a small reward like a sticker for taking even a taste may help get them to eat previously shunned foods, a U.K. study said.
Though it might seem obvious that a reward could tempt young children to eat their vegetables, the idea is actually controversial, researchers wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
That’s because some studies have shown that rewards can backfire and cause children to lose interest in foods they already liked, said Jane Wardle, a researcher at University College London who worked on the study.
Verbal praise, such as “Brilliant! You’re a great vegetable taster,” did not work as well.
“We would recommend that parents consider using small non-food rewards, given daily for tasting tiny pieces of the food — smaller than half a little finger nail,” Wardle said in an email.
The study found that when parents gave their three- and four-year-olds a sticker each time they took a “tiny taste” of a disliked vegetable, it gradually changed the children’s attitudes.
Over a couple of weeks, children rewarded this way were giving higher ratings to vegetables, with the foods moving up the scale from between 1 and 2 — somewhere between “yucky” and “just okay” — to between 2 and 3, or “just okay” and “yummy.”
The children were also willing to eat more of the vegetables — either carrots, celery, cucumber, red pepper, cabbage or sugar snap peas — in laboratory taste tests, the study said.
Researchers randomly assigned 173 families to one of three groups. In one, parents used stickers to reward their child each time they took a tiny sample of a disliked vegetable.
A second group of parents used verbal praise. The third group, where parents used no special veggie-promoting tactics, served as a “control.”
Parents in the reward groups offered their child a taste of the “target” vegetable every day for 12 days.
Soon after, children in the sticker group were giving higher ratings to the vegetables — and were willing to eat more in the research lab, going from an average of 5 grams at the start to about 10 grams after the 12-day experience.
The turnaround also seemed to last, with preschoolers in the sticker group still willing to eat more of the once-shunned veggie three months later.
Why didn’t the verbal praise work? Wardle said the parents’ words may have seemed “insincere” to their children. Reuters Health
© 2012 American Society for Nutrition
Increasing food acceptance in the home setting: a randomized controlled trial of parent-administered taste exposure with incentives
Eating for Pleasure or Profit February 2011
The Effect of Incentives on Children’s Enjoyment of Vegetables Psychological Science
Sometimes the power of music helps a picky/problem feeder!
The power struggle: over!
Little kids long to control their worlds, and doing that through food comes naturally. To break the push-pull cycle:
Let go of your end of the emotional rope. You can’t force your child to do anything, especially eat, so just stop trying. Simply offer her nutritious, varied foods — and eat them yourself. She can have hers, or not, but you’re showing her how. Do you still remember having to eat your veggies or clean your plate before you could leave the table? Adam Strauss, M.D., a pediatrician in Westwood and Mansfield, MA, offers a word of caution. “When parents demand that their kids eat certain foods, they’re attaching negative connotations to it. Pretty soon, the struggle is worse.” Put the food on her plate, but if it stays there, don’t push her, and don’t stress over it.
Give straightforward praise, even if he takes only one bite of something new. For example: “It’s great that you tried the chili!” Basing the praise on how you feel (“Mommy’s so happy!”) sends a questionable message: He controls your emotions with his fork. “I used to feel really attached to my kids’ eating the dishes I’d taken the time to make. My emphasis on my split-pea soup especially made everyone miserable. Finally, one day I ignored the soup but put out some fun sides, and the kids ended up tasting the soup,” recalls Heather Swain, mom of Graham, 2, and Clementine, 4, in Brooklyn.
Don’t get hung up on the time of day your child eats, or how much she eats at a sitting. It’s okay if your kid doesn’t eat three square meals every day as long as over the course of a week or two she eats things from each food group.
Offer choices that don’t matter. You may face stubborn insistence that toast have a corner unbuttered to avoid messy hands, or that cereal be served only in a Go Diego Go! bowl, or that nothing touch. While this kind of behavior is draining, it’s typical at this age, says Dr. Strauss. Give him an option — the green plate or the blue? Offering your child a limited choice is often enough to end the power struggle. But make your rules clear: “At home, you can choose your cup, but when we’re out, you have to use whatever they have.”
My kid won’t eat meat
The texture turns off many preschoolers, and that’s fine. “My two-and-a-half-year-old is basically a vegetarian, barring hot dogs and his latest discovery, ham,” says Elizabeth Gonzalez, mom of Jason, 2, in Yorktown Heights, NY. “I offer lots of peanut butter, cheese, yogurt, and veggie burgers, and he’s doing just fine. We always ask if he wants meat when I make it, but when he invariably says no, we say A-OK and try not to press it.” Like Jason, your child can still get all the protein he needs from:
- yogurt, cheese, or cottage cheese
- nachos with beans and cheese
- hard-boiled eggs or any egg dish
- his favorite crackers dipped in hummus or spread with peanut (or nut) butter
- cheese or even meat-filled ravioli (the pasta exterior goes a long way for meat-haters)
- mini-tuna melts (if he’s game for fish, but stick to chunk light, only twice a week)
Veggies? Yeah, right
This is the most common picky-eater problem. To convince him it’s easy being green, try:
- thinly sliced veggies stir-fried with teriyaki sauce, maybe a little chicken, and rice. Go with carrot slices and baby corn to start. Water chestnuts have little taste, and can be a good stepping-stone to serious veggies
- zucchini muffins and veggie lasagna. (Find the world’s easiest, kid-friendliest recipes at 10 Tasty Veggie Kid Meals.)
- lettuce wraps. Use a filling he’ll eat (anything goes, from turkey to cream cheese) and a romaine leaf as a wrap. The novelty of the whole thing may just win him over.
- dressing — honey mustard, ranch, even ketchup or melted butter — with veggies for dipping. Put the plate next to a sure thing (say, grilled cheese) to lure him to the table. We all tend to eat more when the food is right in front of us.
- thinking outside the frozen-corn box. “Graham hated all vegetables — or so we thought,” says Heather Swain. “We tried peas, carrots, corn…then we put kale in front of him. Turns out, he likes the bitter ‘adult’ veggies like kale, chard, and broccoli rabe. By continually offering him choices, we finally hit on what appeals to his taste.”
Unless it’s white, it’s a no-go
Preschoolers like lots of colors in their pictures, but not always on their plates. Consider:
- fruit smoothies. Blend a banana with vanilla yogurt for a healthy sweet snack. You can freeze this for ice pops, too.
- mac and cheese made with whole-wheat (or whole-wheat — blend) macaroni. This may not fly, but you’ve got a better shot with a cheese sauce than a tomato sauce or butter.
- oven-baked fries — half regular and half sweet potato to ease your child into the idea of other spuds.
- half white-/half whole-wheat — bread toast and sandwiches in fun shapes. Use cookie cutters.
- a rainbow meal. Take her to the market to pick out red, orange, yellow, purple, pink, and green foods.
Picky Eater Book Suggestions
The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals
The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue: 101 All-New Recipes and “Sneaky” Tricks for Creating Healthy Meals Kids Will Love
Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food
Specialist eating and drinking equipment
To help your child learn good eating skills, you may find that specialist eating or drinking equipment will make a real difference. The Caroline Walker Trust, a food charity, recommends a number of helpful aids to eating that parents of children with learning disabilities may find useful for their child.
- Different shaped cups, with one or two handles, of different weights, materials, transparencies and designs. The cups should be designed not to shatter or break if they are bitten.
- A transparent cup can be helpful when helping someone to drink, because you can see how much liquid they’re taking.
- Cutlery of differing shapes, sizes, depths and materials. Again, the cutlery shouldn’t shatter if it is bitten. Solid plastic cutlery or plastic-coated metal might be better for people who have a bite reflex when cutlery is placed in their mouth. Shorter-handled cutlery is easier to manage and handgrips or irregularly shaped handles may help someone in using a utensil.
- Plates and bowls that do not slip, have higher sides to prevent spillage, or are angled to make access to food easier.
- Insulated crockery that keeps food hot if mealtimes are lengthy.
- Non-slip mats that support crockery.
- Straws, which can help those with a weaker suck and can have different widths.
- Feeding systems that deliver food to the diner’s mouth through, for example, a rotating plate and a mechanical or electronically controlled spoon. Some systems are powered, others are hand- or foot-operated.
For more information and details of suppliers, read this factsheet from Disabled Living Foundation.
Using the Nutribullet
Wanted to share my Nutribullet update- I again so recommend this!! OK my son Dakota is the one that is picky in regards to any type of vegetable outside of peppers, mushrooms, onions -basically any veggie that one could easily find on pizza! I made him a strawberry banana smoothie.
All he thought was in the smoothie was:
- One whole banana
- About 5 large frozen strawberries
-but actually in addition to that here is what else I added to his “strawberry banana” smoothie
- Super Greens from Organic Girl which is a mix of baby red chard, baby tat soi, baby spinach, baby green swiss chard, baby arugula – just a small handful
- 2 tablespoons of Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt in vanilla- not the fat free -I use low fat. I find it to be sweet -and makes the smoothies even creamier.
- organic baby carrots -they aren’t that small -I used around 5.
- Some frozen organic apples, raspberries, blueberries -just some of each -not much. To make it easy I have everything prepared before. I have a bag of frozen strawberries and another huge bag of frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries etc) I didn’t buy them frozen -I bought the fruit from the farm stand and washed and then froze them. Depending on how much frozen fruit you add you won’t need to add ice -or then it’s too thick.
- a few goji berries and a few chia seeds.
- Oh and I threw in 2 scoops of NV chocolate into his too -meant to use the vanilla which is his favorite flavor.
One minute later -poof -delicious blended pink colored “strawberry banana” smoothie! He drank the whole thing and thought it was good. For me to get this into Dakota -you have NO clue -OMG how I wish I had this years ago!!!
Tanner saw me making my NV shake with the greens and carrots and even though he is a good eater when it comes to veggies and all -I made him a “strawberry banana” smoothie as well -same way I made Dakota’s -he too drank the whole thing and thought even asked for another one later in the day. When I told him what was in it -he didn’t say anything- child was shocked.
Nutribullet is awesome! I found it cheapest at Bed bath and Beyond by using a 20% off coupon -then it cost around 80.
Healthy smoothies for kids with fruits and veggies. One recommendation is not to let kids see the greens going in.
Another recommendation is to let the kids help you make the smoothie
What to Do When A Child Won’t Eat
What to Do When A Child Won’t Eat: Feeding Disorders & Developmental Disabilities by John Galle Center for Autism & Related Disorders
Tips from the Cherab Foundation Members
*Prior to meals, warm up the mouth with blowing bubbles, blow toys, whistles. Never allow the child to eat alone. Remove distractive sources (turn of TV). If child still uses highchair, move it as close to the table as you can so the child feels included during the meal time. Have all family members take part and follow along. Take turns trying things with your food (e.g. “look I can hold this pea on my tongue” and everyone follows and shows each other. Remember, once your child is chewing and eating, then you can teach manors. Choose at least one meal a day and a snack time to do feeding therapy.
Thanks so much for your support,
Allison is a VERY particular eater. She eats monterey jack cheese, crackers, pretzels, french fries, bagels, apples, grapes, bananas, carrots, watermelon, buttered toast, yogurt, pudding, cereal bars, cheerios, peanut butter crackers, ice cream, milkshakes and an occasional bite of a peanut butter sandwich. She will very, very rarely try new food. She has always been this way. We know that the issue is a mixed-texture, sensory thing. Her diet is limited because she will not eat mixed texture things, which, if you think about it, make up the bulk of most diets.
I have talked to several dietitians, nutritionists, occupational therapists and our Developmental Pediatrician about it. Most of what she eats is reasonably good for her. They keep saying to be creative and to encourage the smallest improvements. We do. We also give her vitamins (Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries) and enriched foods. It has not escaped me that much of what she eats is wheat and dairy. However, she is doing so well and has made such dramatic progress, that I don’t really think that this is holding her back. Her speech is age appropriate now; what remains are fine motor challenges and some distractability.
I used to obsess about it; now, not so much. She is healthy and growing and looks healthy – rosy cheeks, shiny hair, active and smiling. We keep encouraging and make sure that she gets fruits and veggies and cheese (for protein and calcium) every day. I give her enriched bread and cereal bars as much as I can.
I am not sure if this is helpful, but know that you are not alone.
Susan, Mom to Allison (5.8), verbal apraxia, hypotonia and fine motor delays (but very conversational 🙂 ) and Lindsay (3.5), our precocious talker.
Here are some tips from a previous post for those who have trouble getting the vegetables into their child.
As a professional (SLP Oral Motor/Verbal Apraxia Specialist) and the parent of a once picky eater..here are some hints for increasing nutritional balance to limited diets. If your child likes pasta..make your own sauce or add to the jarred kind the puree of healthy vegetables. Steam the vegetables first in only a little water..then add the water and veg. to blender to puree. Mix veg. liquid into sauce..boost spiciness of the sauce just a little with hot sauce if you think you child will tolerate it. BUT REMEMBER..start adding a little of the new veg. liquid at a time- say 2-4 TBSP to the 1 cup sauce. Blend and taste. Adjust salt/flavoring to taste. You can use spinach, carrots, even broccoli.
Add nuts ground, or wheat germ boxed bread mixes to add fiber to diet. Or add wheat germ to his pancakes or hot cereal if he’ll eat it. Maple syrup used disguise lots of tastes.
Sometimes having the kids help cook a meal or portion of the meal makes it more fun to eat. I even went so far as to use cookie cutters on bone- less chicken breasts and breaded (wheat germ + crumbs), baked and played circus with the animals…eating legs or head to get good food into Jonathan.
Take heart..Jon’s almost 21 and eats almost everything..including Sushi, salad, and something other than chicken.
Hope these ideas help.
Lori Roth, MA, CCC-SLP
Hi – My youngest also has a very limited diet, though his consists mostly of meat!
Also, it it’s texture that causes the problems, keep offering the food in different ways. Also – don’t give up. We heard that it may take a child seeing a food 100 times before s/he will consider TOUCHING it, much less eating it. Once my son would touch something, he’d tasted it by licking it. See if you can get your child to touch other foods by playing with them – bowls of cut veggies, boiled pasta, cereal, anything! We also always offer the option of spitting it out. You wouldn’t chew and swallow something you thought was gross – you’d spit it out (ok, unless you were at a UN dinner!) – and you should let your child do the same. It takes some of the fear out of it. So, always offer the food – in fact, demand that it go on their plate – and keep trying.
Finally, I was a picky eater as a child, and I still am. I don’t like things that don’t look like what they are. To clarify – if I can’t tell what form it took originally, I don’t want to eat it!! How did I fix this? I started cooking. Alot. I would eat it if I knew I liked the ingredients that went in it. Hey – I like onions, garlic, bread and oregano. Hey! I probably like foccacia though it looks funny. And I was right. You’d be surprised by what kids will eat if they can prepare it!
Good luck – and you have LOTS of company out there! I know a little boy who ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bananas for 5 (!!!) years. He lived.
PS Then, for a rare few, reverse psychology works. It didn’t in my house, but you could always try the “do NOT touch this! It’s MINE and you can’t have any because you’re too little…” blah blah blah. Hey – if it only works once, that’s great, right?
Well, special pasta sauce made in a blender is certainly not going to help my grandson Benny. He will not eat pasta at all. It is “yucky.” If you offer him something that isn’t either (1) crunchy or (2) Mickey D’s hamburger [and I did try the recipe somebody put on this list, but he can tell the difference even if you wrap the sandwich in wax paper :-(]–the new food is not only rejected, he acts as if you have assaulted him.
My mother (his great-grandmother) and I didn’t believe this when he first moved to Florida last summer, we thought, Oh, just put little bits of what everybody else is eating on his plate and don’t look at him and he will try them when he feels like it–NOOO! He reacted as if we had offered him a plate of live worms or something. That is the best way I can describe his reaction, it was so extreme. Maybe that is how it felt to him.
On the positive side, he feels so intensely about this that it does give him high motivation for speaking, one of the first words I remember hearing him say was when I offered him a green bean off my plate–“Dummy!”
I do believe he will survive anyway, it is a good thing they have vitamins in the form of gummy bears, and that he thinks his ProEFA is “candy.” He did eat some yogurt this week for the first time, too.
Children’s TV Programs Can Possibly Help
You can also let your child watch the following which addresses picky eaters in a child friendly way!
The Big Comfy Couch – Season 4 Ep 2 – “Picky Eaters”
Arthur “D.W. The Picky Eater”
For a problem feeder who is school age also visit
For a problem feeder with autism also visit
Picky Eating in Children with Autism and How to Treat It By Thomas R Linscheid, Ph.D.