Mommy SOS | Picky Eaters


If you’re new and just stopping in… welcome!  We’re so glad you have found Scottsdale Moms Blog!

Today we’re back with another Mommy SOS topic.  If you missed our other Mommy SOS posts be sure to check them out.  We’ve covered some great topics – from pediatricians to strollers.  The posts are all full of great wisdom from all of YOU!

Now for our next topic…Picky Eaters.

Here’s my story…

I couldn’t wait to get the go-ahead from Nora’s Dr. to start feeding her solids.  My aunt had gotten me a Beaba Babycook for my shower and I was so excited to start making Nora homemade baby food.

Now the first 10 months of feeding Nora were pure bliss (well – as much “bliss” as feeding a baby can be).  She’d eat anything and everything we put in her mouth.  We even started doing Bountiful Baskets simply because it didn’t matter what produce we got in our basket, our daughter would eat it.  Pureed brussel sprouts included 🙂

Well things have dramatically changed since that “good ole year.”  Since then our great little eater has turned into a very picky eater. Let’s define a picky eater (for those of you who are blessed to not have one).  Here’s how Urban Dictionary defines it…

picky eater – A person that is adverse to a wide variety of foods; additionally picky eaters often display an unwillingness to try new foods, or any food that contains even a small amount of a food they do not like.

Now just to give you an idea of just how picky Nora is here’s a quick little “Nora’s Eats” list

Nora’s Eats:

  • Nora will eat {most} fruit
  • Nora will NOT eat any vegetables
  • Nora will eat tortilla chips
  • Nora will NOT eat any kind of meat (chicken nuggets and fish sticks with dipping sauces included)
  • Nora will eat Greek yogurt (for protein because of above noted dislike of meat)
  • Nora will NOT eat go-gurt.
  • Nora will eat noodles with Parmesan cheese (sometimes – it depends on the day :))
  • Nora will NOT eat spaghetti
  • Nora will eat waffles
  • Nora will NOT eat eggs

Let’s just say we’re in a little bit of a eating slump around this home.  At this point I don’t know if Nora is simply exhibiting normal toddler picky behavior or if I’m making some sort of parenting mistake.

I could totally use your help.

Do you have (or have you had) a picky eater? If so, I’d love to hear any and all of your wisdom pretty please.



  1. Oh goodness Steph. I could make out a similar list for ALL of my kids! I think I failed as a mom. I read posts from friends about their kids requests for meals {thanks Jess Fisher} and I’m like, seriously? What did I do wrong?!?

    According to our ped, I’m not to stress about it. Kids eat when their hungry. Keep offering them a wide variety and one day they will learn that they are hungry and meal time is when you fill your belly if you don’t want to be. This is actually held true, surprisingly. Our 6 year old has finally crossed the gorge and will eat *most* things.

    A couple things we did that helped get us there (all our peds advise as well) – keep offering variety, even if it’s things you know she doesn’t like. Don’t stress or punish for not eating, eating shouldn’t be associated with discipline (lest we give our girls an eating disorder…yikes). Encourage single bites. We do this starting around age 2-3. By 3 years old, we require it to leave the table. They must try one bite of everything on their plate (Izzi, my stubborn one, has sometimes been at the table for hours but has always taken that bite). Limit snacks. We have a snack schedule to limit snacking between meals.

    Nora is sooo normal (as I’m hoping other moms will post) or at least she would fit in just fine with our family 🙂

    • Thanks Abbi for your insight! Meal times are just not a fun time around our home – I’m sure you understand. BUT I’m so thankful to hear that more than likely she’ll grow out of this phase.

    • Abbi and Steph,
      I’m so glad for this post, Steph and your response, Abbi! My little guy is 16 months now and has become so picky! He fits your list exactly, Steph. I keep earth’s best baby food around to “supplement” his veggies, because he still will eat it. I can see that coming to an end soon, so hopefully I can get him to eat something nutritious! I feel your stress, Steph. Hang in there!

  2. Mom to two very picky eaters… Mealtimes are still not fun (oldest is eight). The Greek yogurt is great, that’s my protein saving grace for my little one. With my oldest I keep plain grilled chicken breasts around all the time, so if she doesn’t want to eat what we are eating, there’s her dinner – boring and repetitious, but I’ve found if I cook to her tastes, we eat three meals.

    Will she eat muffins? I hide a lot in muffins, which at least allows me to get something good in first thing in the morning (and often for snacks). I’m just not up to battling all the time, and honestly it’s a fight they tend to win. Muffins have at least solved my breakfast issues – the girls are happy to eat them, and I know they are getting whole grains, protein, veggies and/or fruit. Here are some of my recipes if they might help…

    • Christi – it’s nice to hear that I’m not alone. I so often am with other mommy’s and kiddo’s who will eat virtually anything you put in front of them and I’ll be honest, I do have a little eater-jealousy. 😉

      At this point Nora will not even try any sort of meat and so I’m not able to do the chicken breast option – but I’ll keep that in the back of my mind when she does actually start eating meat.

      Love the muffin idea – there are days she’ll eat 1/4 or so of a muffin and a lot of days she won’t. Gotta love my little eater 🙂

      Totally going to check out your site for more recipes. Thanks!

  3. Nora is normal. A lot of kids have an issue with trying anything they think they won’t like based on what the foods look like. I’ve taken a page from Jennifer Seinfeld’s book and have added vegetables to things I know kids like, such as slipping pureed vegetables into mac and cheese, making carrot cake, or zucchini/squash breads. It’s definitely a struggle and I’ve had to employ the “one bite or bed” rule.

    Here’s the website for Jennifer Seinfeld’s recipes:

    Just keep with it. I’ve also applauded and rewarded my niece or nephew for trying new foods, even if they don’t like it. I’ve also compared new foods to items I know they like. “Try the meatloaf, it’s kind of like steak! You’ll like it! Try the chicken. It’s kind of like chicken nuggets. Try the roasted potatoes. Think of it like mashed potatoes.”

    As for the meat issue, I have a friend who’s son has decided he’s a vegetarian and will not eat any meat. She somehow manages to sneak chicken and beef into some of their meals and he’ll eat it (he’s 4).

    Abbi, you didn’t do anything wrong. Kids have strange palettes which don’t really mature until the kids are older. Keep introducing new foods and the kids will learn that the new things aren’t going away.

  4. Steph, my child is exactly the same way! I’m bummed we didn’t get a chance to talk about this the other night! We’ll have to talk next time we get together because Enoch’s eating habits sound VERY similar to Nora’s: no meat, no veggies, lots of fruit, sometimes mac ‘n cheese, sometimes pb & j, only eats eggs for my mom (what the heck?). I’ve just recently discovered that he’ll eat the Clif Bars for kids. And he eats a lot of them! Also, carrot cake. He likes the frosting so I have to help him eat it and make sure he’s actually getting some carrot cake with the frosting. I just got him to eat oatmeal yesterday, but it had to be really sweet and it took a couple times of asking him to get him to take a bite. Hopefully this is just a phase and they’ll get through it soon. But you’re not alone, I hate meal time at our house! We’ll talk soon and throw around some ideas 🙂

  5. Julia was a VERY picky eater. Pretty much only mac and cheese and hot dogs. We just kept at it with a positive attitued… and ELEVEN years later ~ she is a champ. Still doesn’t do great with veggies, but slowly but surely tries new things. Hang in there! You are doing great.

  6. This was the response from my friend with her vegetarian child: “Ethan (now 6) still doesn’t eat well…. Here is how I still manage to sneak in protein: Barilla Plus pasta- made from legume flour instead of straight semolina- packs a whopping 17g of protein per serving! Most picky eaters will always eat plain pasta, so this had been a life saver for us. Nutella- because Ethan won’t eat nuts (like peanuts) I can still sneak a Nutella and jelly sandwich in because of the chocolate in the hazelnut spread. Ovaltine or Carnation Instant Breakfast mix- most kids love chocolate milk, and it’s a bonus that these choco mixes have vitamins and extra calories for the days that the picky eaters have real gaps in their intake for the day. Meal time is still not “fun” for us, but once you just learn how to work with it instead of fighting with it, it gets easier. Kids really don’t need to eat as much as we think they should, so as long as medical problems have been ruled out there is really nothing to get too worried about :)”

  7. Another thought – will she eat macaroni? My pickiest just finished up her lunch of Kraft’s new macaroni that is made with cauliflower. I add 1/2 a jar of squash baby food to it when mixing in the cheese, as well as some cooked and pureed carrots. She doesn’t seem to notice. My older one would never go for it, but luckily my youngest has yet to notice – which is good as those might be the only three veggies I get in to her today. 🙂 Also what about mashed potatoes? I’ve had good luck adding in some pureed white beans – even my oldest didn’t notice that addition. It’s hard because it’s so hit or miss.

  8. Oh can I please join your “Mamas of Picky Eaters Anonymous” group??? 🙂 Reading your post I felt like I could have written every word myself. My 3 year old is ridiculously picky and I am often questioning myself ‘what did I do wrong?’ I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this but it’s led me to make her meals totally different from what me, my husband and my one year old eat. I’ve heard so many people say not to do this but putting something in front of my daughter that she doesn’t want to eat every single day just doesn’t work for us. She is a self-proclaimed ‘fruit-arian’ too (no meats or veggies) and I’m always concerned about making sure that she gets the proper nutrients so making her a separate meal of things I know she’ll eat and cover most food groups is a sacrafice that I’m completely willing to make. If it makes you feel any better, my one year old is very different (so far) and will eat most anything. So I really think a lot of it has to do with the child, not what you are offering or doing specifically. Allie will not eat any of the typical kids foods – pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, quesadillas, mac and cheese, even ice cream, cake or cupcakes! Glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this – you are NOT alone!

    • of course you can join the group! 😉 I’m thinking we’ll meet around 5 – 7pm a couple days a week… just so we’re sure to miss out on dinner time (hehe).

      And don’t be embarrassed – Nora never eats anything that’s we’re eating so she always gets her own “special” meal.

      Girl – in all seriousness – I feel your pain. Pizza – nope. Chicken nuggets – nope. Mac and Cheese – very rarely (like once a month), Hot Dogs – yeah right! Nora won’t easy any of those things either. Ugh.

      Totally going to have to try the fruit/veggie pouch things! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Also, something that has totally worked for us are those purees in the capri sun-type packages that they can suck the food out of themselves. Allie will eat ANY of those (yesterday she had one that was spinach, peas and pear). I tell her they are smoothies and she always gobbles them up. They are pricey though (the cheapest I’ve found on sale is $1 each) but on the days I feel like she’s only eaten crackers and watermelon, I think they are worth it. And if it works for Miss Nora, maybe the silicone one Elaina posted above would work and you can make the puree mixes yourself – I’m totally going to look into that!

    • Heather – count your blessings that Allie will eat those! I’ve tried them with Sophia and had no luck 🙁 She’s a fresh fruit only girl and…corn. The only chicken I can get her to eat is the GF Sweet and Sour chicken from Pei Wei.

      Also (for your first post), I try to give my girls things I know they like and things I know they don’t like at every meal. They can take one bite of the things they don’t like and eat all of the things they do. If you never force them to try new things, the battle {unfortunately} gets harder…not easier the older they get…trust me…

  10. Sign me up for Moms of Picky Eaters Anonymous too! My 3 year old only wants to eat the typical kid foods like chicken nuggets, pizza, and peanut butter sandwiches. Recently he rediscovered MAC and cheese. I’m trying to figure out what to pack for his lunches at preschool since the school is nut free and he’s not a fan of deli meats. I’ll have to try out the squeeze pouches. I have had some success with hiding veggies in muffins as long as I make mini muffins. So far my 14 month old is doing better but he’s starting to get more picky too. To make matters even worse my husband is a picky eater too! Aaaahhhhhh!!!

    • Join the club Jessica C! Not necessarily a fun club to be a part of though, right?! I guess at least we can all link arms and work through this together! 😉

  11. Oh Steph, I am so sorry. I think the worst thing is having to battle with your child over something they need but don’t want. I know this MAY come as a surprise, but Parker WAS and still sometimes IS a picky eater. By 13 months he would refuse everything but: rice, pasta & bread. Because my kiddos tend to be on the skinny side my ped. told me to just let him keep eating those and that it was better than him starving… HOWEVER, I didn’t listen to him (and ended up finding a new dr.) because I just strongly disagreed with his philosophy- In my opinion its better for them to eat whatever is in front of them than being picky. Luke and I decided that he would have no snacks and no specially made meals (meals made just for him). We would eat together- the same foods- every meal. He would see us eating it and he could refuse all he wanted but that was what there was to eat and if he didn’t eat at mealtime, he didn’t eat until the next meal. I know that sounds really REALLY harsh, but quite honestly we have never been in the financial position to allow a picky eater to waste food and require catering to. I would say that for the first 2-3 days he was stubborn as they get, he would hold out until he could have milk at nap/bedtime. But then he would take one bite, then maybe two. Eventually as he began to try new things I would start preparing them differently. Not just offer him chicken, but really try all types: grilled, roasted, fried, shredded, hot, cold, strips, cubes… Then once I found what he preferred we would try to offer him that to avoid future battles- you know, not go out of our way to make him eat things he truly didn’t like but in making our meals we’d try to prepare them in ways he liked.
    Then we had all kinds of hurdles to overcome, lactose intolerance- greatly limited what I could offer him, then we found he had candida- meaning he couldn’t have sugars, breads, carbs, anything white or refined for a long time. That meant his meals HAD to consist of veggies, protein and a whole grain. The best thing we found for him during this time was quinoa. It isn’t a grain but he would eat it like rice, its actually a seed AND it is the only grain-type food that is packed with protein and has all 7 essential amino acids. I found that the more I let him set the rules for what he would eat the worse he ate. I had to out will him, and it was tiring. At one point Luke made me go in the other room because I just wanted to give him anything so he would eat but as I am listening from the other room I hear Luke reasoning with him and then he ate his dinner. Sometimes too they need a change in HOW you approach meals. We’d let him out of his high chair and just offer him bites of dinner while he was running around- he ALWAYS ate more this way. And now, he is still VERY picky just in other ways. He wants a meal of protein, veggies, fruit, and a grain he wont eat anything simple, no pb&j no mac & cheese nothing.

    I have NEVER been in support of hiding foods within other foods. On the one hand yes you want them to get proper nutrition, but on the other you are not teaching them to eat the actual food. I love to take one vegetable and offer it to him multiple ways (just like with meat) and then
    let him try all the ways he could eat it- raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, in soup…

    But the biggest thing I have found with him, is that if I waiver at all, if I am not firm with him about the fact that he will eat what we offer him for breakfast, lunch and dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY, then we have to start over again (and trust me we have done it multiple times). So now meals look like: Whatever I make for me and Luke I give it to Parker as well (and now with Piper choose one aspect of the meal to puree for her to eat too). He can eat it or he has to wait until the next meal. he doesn’t get any snacks or fun things to drink in between- he gets water. But if he eats ALL of his food he can snack in between meals and have milk. Lots of negotiating. But now 95% of the time, he will eat all of his food at every meal.

    • Jess – we love quinoa – especialliy quinoa pasta. We discovered it when Sophia was *theoretically* diagnosed with ceilacs! The whole fam prefers it now over regular pasta!

  12. Skylar is 19 months and eats just like Nora. Pretty much all fruit, goldfish crackers, waffles (sometimes), yogurt mixed with granola, and french fries. No veggies or meat. We have to give her a multivitamin with iron and mix pediasure in her cup of milk at night. Miraculously for lunch today she ate a half a grilled cheese sandwhich that I snuck grated carrots and a piece of turkey in. She likes croutons so I cooked it till it was crispy =) She also likes pancakes so I use a tub of baby food veggies, 1 egg, honey, and pancake batter and make her lil veggie cakes. She usually eats those too. I realllllyyyy hope she out grows this because it is so frustrating! I feel your pain!! And like we have time to make special meals with these new lil babies too!! Not to mention she won’t eat in her high chair so I have to chase her around the house. =/ meal time = no fun!

  13. Thanks ladies for the squeezable pouch suggestion.. bought a pear, banana and beets one today and she LOVED it! now I just have to figure how to get them for less expensive.

  14. I have a picky eater and I’ve learned to just relax about it. They will go through phases and they will eventually add in more foods. There’s a great book about eating and kids (can’t remmeber the name – will look it up) but he explains its our job to offer the food and theirs to decide to eat it.

    I’m a strong believer in not cooking seperate foods for a picky eater. I just try to make sure one of the dishes is something he will eat (even if its just bread or fruit). Serving family style helps. At first we had rule that everything had to go on his plate but he didn’t need to eat it (and this helped for him to try some foods). Now that he’s old if he gets to serve himself he’s more likely to try new foods.

    My son didn’t eat any foods until about 14 months – we skipped the baby food stage. He wouldn’t even eat his first birthday cake (refused to even taste it). For a long time he loved fruits but wouldn’t eat any veggies. Now at age 5, he loves peas, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce. Especially if he can dip these in balsamic vinegar or ranch dressing.

    Another helpful thing is to take them to store like Sprouts with a huge fruit and veggie department and ask them to pick out the vegetable for dinner. And then get them invovled with cooking.

    Limiting snacks and juice helps. In general my son doesn’t eat that much food each day so we really have to limit juice and snacks or he will be too full for dinner. Its hard with school because they give them so many snacks throughout the day.

    He’s never been a sandwich kid so he gets crackers and pieces of deli meats or meat and fruit kabobs for lunch (food eaten on a stick is always a hit

    We freeze the yogurt tubes and I’m going to try making some smoothies and freezing those into popsicles.

  15. OH THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I thought I was alone in this area. My husband and I were having a conversation last night about our 2 year old Emma and her picky eating habits. Of course I was in tears thinking I have failed as a parent. Now I have hope!

  16. As a pediatric feeding therapist (and mom of 2), it’s interesting to read all the comments. In my experience, while many cases of picky eating can be a normal developmental phase, many times there is an undiscovered medical condition that may be contributing such as food intolerances, aversive food experiences and even many common strategies can sometimes exacerbate the problem. If your child is eliminating whole classes of foods (no vegetables, no meats) or becomes increasingly more picky or has less than 7 reliable foods, you may benefit from seeing a pediatric feeding therapist or a “feeding team” at many medical institutions, which consists of a variety of medical professions working together.

  17. I’m SO glad to read this post and know I’m not alone, but also commiserating with you on how painful it is. My little is 22 months. Here are the only fruits he will even put his lips on: blueberries, strawberries, grapes, sometimes cherries. Veg- zero. I SO wish I could feed him mashed potatoes or Mac n cheese like others suggested hiding things in. I too still do a lot of the pouches because he will eat many of them (although its been trial and error to figure out which ones not to waste my $$ on). I use the subscribe n save option from Amazon to try to keep the costs down, but that does cut down somewhat on the variety he gets. But beggars can’t be choosers. Oh. And like most kids his age, he’ll eat most any cracker/chip/crunchy carb you put in front of him. Here’s a question: if he knows by the sight of some food that he doesn’t want to even taste it, why is it that anything thing he finds on the ground, food or otherwise, will go straight to his lips??

  18. We have 6 kiddos in our home, ages 2-5 yrs. most eat well, they have their likes and dislikes, but our 3 1/2 year old sounds like everyone else’s. we battled with how and what to give him. Now, we have just given up. He likes what he likes, and at least it’s healthy. The boy lives on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 3 meals a day, every day. After the PB&J, he will then eat other things. Downs about 3-4 yogurts a day, pasta, cheese and will eat grapes and watermelon to no end, and steak and burgers. Veggies- only carrots and green beans, so that is what he gets. It’s not worth the battles to try new foods. Sometimes, he will but on his terms.
    He rarely has sweets and no soda- prefers water and milk, so for that I am grateful. Our 4 year old was raised with him, same exposure to foods and is completely different. Eats veggies, fish, meat, etc. in fact she loves sushi – so I can’t figure it out. I am just hoping in time, he is willing to try different things. If not, he will live on PB&J on whole wheat or multi grain bread.


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