Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Guest Post - Picky Eaters

Today I have a guest post coming at you from Stephanie. Stephanie is a mom to three tiny humans. When she isn't at home mommying, she is at work as a nurse. An oncology nurse. She wrote a day in the life post of an oncology nurse that was amazing. Seriously, those are my favorite posts and to read one from an oncology nurse is even better. Go check it out.

When I asked if anyone was interested in writing a guest post for me while I am traveling for work, Stephanie emailed me right away and I loved her ideas. And the one that jumped out to me was getting picky eaters to actually eat. This one is dear to my heart since Miss Avery is a very picky eater. Sutton can be, but she will try almost anything we put in front of her. And she is a pretty good eater. I definitely needed ideas to implement that could help with Avery. Once I am back from my work trip, we are implementing these. 

Take it away Stephanie.

Every night at dinner time, I wish that I had a time machine. If I did, I would use said machine to go back in time and hug my sweet Nana. I would hold her and thank her for the hundreds of dinners that she prepared for me as a child and I would apologize for being a little jerk and not eating any of them. I would stuff my face with all of the delicious food that she made and I would be sure to go on and on about its tastiness and her amazing-ness. I would oooh and aaah over her macaroni pie and I would squeal with delight at the site of her spaghetti with meatballs. I would basically grovel at her feet and beg for forgiveness for my unappreciative ways.

Before becoming a mom, I would hear stories about kids that would only eat bread or chicken nuggets for every meal and I thought "Wow, get control of your kid." or "Not my kid. My kid will be an eclectic eater." Yea. Famous last words. 

Fast forward 4 years and I am yelling at my 4 year old to please eat a dang bite of chicken or bartering with my 3 year old to taste the littlest piece of broccoli in exchange for a cookie. They refused. I yelled. Dinner time was miserable and the cycle continued day after day.

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It's amazing how Disney was able to capture my likeness in this scene. (via)

About 1 year ago, I decided that I could't do it anymore. My picky eaters would eat if it was the last thing I would do and the frustrating dinners would come to an end. With that in mind, I made changes that I feel turned dinner time into a somewhat....dare I say it....enjoyable time? Not only do my kids now eat their food but they also seem to enjoy what I make (including vegetables). Praise hands. Today, I wanted to share what I did to get us to this point. It took time, consistency and patience (a real struggle of mine) and it's not perfect every night but it is miles from where we used to be.


Since about 1 year ago, I make ONE meal for dinner with very rare exceptions. When I first initiated this one meal "policy', the kids fussed and complained and just down right would not eat. "I want chicken nuggets!" they whined! "This looks gross!" they wailed!

Instead of losing my cool about them not eating the pricey piece of fish that I so lovingly prepared, they were simply told that this is our dinner and if they do not want to eat it, that is their choice but they get nothing else for the night. Zip. Nada. I don't slide them a piece of bread on the down low or slip them a banana when no one is looking. It is the dinner I have made or nothing. I firmly believe that kids will eat when they are hungry and they will not starve if they miss one meal. My oldest is probably my pickiest eater so she was the most resistant to this new rule but by day 3-4, she stopped refusing her meals and actually started eating!


Taking my kids to the grocery store used to be an epic nightmare. The handful of times that I have taken all 3, I left the store sweating. All of the "can I have this?" or "I want this!" requests are enough to make the most patient person want to scream. I did realize one day that my oldest would come home from the store and would only want to eat the grapes that she chose at the store. So, I took that and ran with it. Now, when we go to the store I have them help choose a lot of the food items on our list. They learn how to choose fruit/veggies, which eggs looks the best or to check the expiration date on the milk. They are super excited to grocery shop now and have started requesting us try new foods that they think look pretty or interesting. 

To help with meal prep, I let them each chose a meal that they would like to help make for the week (no "kids" meals). Knowing that they helped pick the meal that they are eating has also been a great way to get them to eat because they are excited it being "their" dinner night.
weekly meal planner
Meal Planner (that I use)


Depending on the age of your child, the amount of help they can be with this step will vary. My middle child loves to help in the kitchen but he is only 4 so he does a lot of the mixing and pouring of ingredients. My 6 year old is allowed to chop (with a special knife) so she gets to help prep veggies and meats. My kids take a lot of pride in their meals and get so excited to see the look on their dad's and my face when we taste their masterpieces. (We make sure to be very dramatic with our amazed facial expressions). 

They don't help every single night due to my work schedule, but 3 nights a week is a goal that I personally try to hit for helping in the kitchen. Side Note: This will require an insane amount of patience and probably wine. This part is messy and the type A person in me has to back myself off the ledge at times due to the mess they make.)


Who doesn't love eating from a cute plate or with a fun fork?! Even as an adult, I am more inclined to drink water from my pretty water bottle than from an ugly cup. I find that my kids eat better when they have their fun character plates and utensils. We will say that they need to eat to find whichever character is on their plate that night. It is an easy way to infuse a little bit of fun into dinner time. Amazon, Target and Walmart all have tons of fun options to choose from!


We have a reward chart for our kids that we use all through the school year. On the chart, there are 5 things that my kids have to do on a daily basis to get a star. One of them is to eat dinner without fighting/complaining. If they eat everything on their plate without complaining, they get a star. As soon as they eat their dinner, they put their plate in the sink and run over to their chart to place a star. A full chart of stars = an ice cream date or an hour at chuckie cheese or whatever fun activity that I can think of for that week. When they fill their chart and get to do a fun activity, we verbally remind them that this activity is due to them doing an awesome job with eating dinner, waking up nicely in the morning etc.
Kids reward chart


My daughter is loud. As in, I'm pretty sure that her mouth is actually a megaphone in disguise, loud. She also likes to talk. A lot. As a result, the first 10 minutes of dinner time is silent dinner. My kids are 6, 4 and 1 1/2 so they lose focus very easily. Quite dinner helps them to focus on eating their meal without distraction, once 10 minutes, or so, is up we start talking about our day. By that time, they have usually eaten a good portion of their dinner! I expect that we will be able to move on from quiet dinners as they get older but for now, I see it as a necessity to help them focus on their meals without too much distraction. 


Dipping sauces are a great way to encourage kids to try new food. When I am introducing my kids to a new veggie, I will put together little cups of 3 different sauces or ketchup or what not so they can "sample" the new food. I think it makes them feel a little bit fancy and it almost tricks them into trying the food because they have to dip and bite at least 3 times before they decided whether they love or hate it. A lot of times they find a dip that they love and end up eating the whole thing! 


Consistency is key when it comes to trying to implement any new strategy when it comes to kids. They must see that whatever is happening is the new normal and that no amount of whining or complaining will change it. Make sure that your partner or babysitter or whoever is helping with dinner time is sending the same message as well. Be consistent in offering foods even if they have not wanted them the 10 times before. For example, my 6 year old never liked strawberries, I continued to offer them to her and now she decided that she loves them. On the flip side, my son used to love eggs and now he doesn't. I continue to make them for myself and offer him a bite because he could very well change his mind. 

I hope that these tips will help you to find new ways to encourage your picky eater to eat! I don't want this post to give the impression that my kids are always super awesome, sushi and eggplant eating, food stars and that I am over here rocking life. There are more days that I am a hot mess than not. However, the food struggle has decreased significantly since I started to implement the ideas listed in this post and I hope that it will be helpful in your house too!

Thank you Danielle for giving me the opportunity to guest post today!

I hope this post helps you all out as much as it has helped me out. I am definitely ordering some new plates for the girls, going to take them grocery shopping with me (eek!) and even let them help me prep/cook dinner. Thank you Stephanie!!!

Don't forget tomorrow is our Girl Chat link up. The topic is your Fall Bucket List!


  1. Aww sophie, what a great post! I love the chore chart, and getting kids to help you looks like fun :)


    1. I had my girls help me last night with cooking and it definitely helped!

  2. I feel like that Beauty and the Beast meme some nights with my toddler... and my husband - ha! I love the idea of having them help prepare dinner <3
    Green Fashionista

    1. Haha me too. A lot lately since I got back from my trip. The girls don't want to eat anything I make. Ha. Well mostly Avery. They helped me prep last night and they loved it.

  3. These are some great tips! I completely agree with making one meal. I think a common misconception about kids is that if they turn up their noses at a meal, they'll starve if they don't eat, haha. I like to try to have my kids taste a few bites even if they're unsure at first. If they still don't like it but they tried it, that's fine! Thanks for a great guest post. :)

    1. that is how I feel too. Just try a few bites. I know they won't starve and I am already incorporating these tips into our daily lives.

  4. These are all great tips... our kids are SUCH picky eaters so we are constantly battling with them over food. I'm all about making one meal and one meal only. That's the rule in our house and if they don't like it, they don't eat!

    1. I make only one meal about 95% of the time. Sometimes I make things that are too spicy and I know they won't eat it. But usually I only make that one meal and they must try it. If they don't like it, then they don't eat. Easy peasy. Ha.

  5. I cant wait until Zoe can help make dinner. She helps me load and unload the dishwasher right now. And she has sprinkled cookies. I think she will like helping stir and create menus. She is a pretty good eater, but she has her moments.

    1. My girls helped with dinner last night and loved it. Now I need to find those knives that are safe for kids cutting things. They definitely want to help out more.

  6. Wow, awesome tips!!! I should try the quiet dinner thing!

    1. Haha us too. My girls talk so much while eating and it takes them forever to eat.

  7. These are great tips! I love the idea of the rewards chart. I tend to find that when my little ones help with cooking they are more excited to try it. Sierra Beautifully Candid

    1. I am introducing that to my girls now because Avery has been awful about anything I make...since I have been back. She helped last night and it worked!

  8. I think that these are awesome ideas! I haven't really thought about our eating schedule with my littles. I have a one year old that will eat nearly anything...and a 3 year old that will not touch anything unless it is pizza/pizza rolls or chicken nuggets (in the shape of dinos). Most of the time he tells me he isn't hungry and refuses to eat at all. And...then at 9:30, he is begging for food. I am definitely going to get on board with these tips and try them out!

    1. That is my world too. One of my girls loves to try new things and eat and the other doesn't as much. I tried the letting them help me cook and it worked. I need to implement more of these. I just want great eaters!