Picky Eaters | A Strategy for Dealing with Mealtimes


Do you have a picky (or at the very least “finicky”) eater in your home? My two-year-old is a challenge when it comes to mealtimes. Way more than my four-year-old ever was even with dealing with her food allergies. Keep reading to see what strategy I’ve recently taken when it comes to mealtimes.

Picky Eaters Image

I sometimes feel like talking about food can be as controversial as talking about religion or politics.

People, and moms especially, have very specific opinions and sensitivities when it comes to feeding their families. We all grew up with a certain food culture and, subsequently, have had different challenges and ideals now that we are raising our own children.

The reason I bring this up is because I’m about to share the food philosophy we’ve recently instituted in our home. I don’t want to come off as preachy or that I have all the answers. I don’t think there’s one food philosophy for every family, but I do think sharing personal testimonials can be useful. 🙂

Phew. (Wipes sweat from brow.) I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now on to what “strategy” we’ve been following for mealtimes.

First off, I should confess that I like having strategies to follow when it comes to parenting in general. Having a game plan means more consistency and also helps my husband and I align our own behavior so that we give less confusing, more cohesive, guidance. (Or so we hope – ha!)

We’ve recently instituted Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. (Now doesn’t that sound all official?) Basically, the parent is responsible for what, when and where when it comes to food/meals and the toddler/adolescent is responsible for how much and whether. You can click on over to Satter’s website to read more about the specifics, but, for the most part, that’s it my friends.

My husband’s favorite part of Satter’s philosophy? That it was written on one neat page. No 200+ page-parenting book added to his nightstand. (Of course, Satter has books on the topic, too.) We both appreciate how simple it was for us to follow and introduce to our daughters immediately.

The hardest part? For us, it’s been letting go of coaxing them to eat certain parts of their meal. (Or any of it for that matter.) We’ve never done special meals so if we’re having salmon they’re having salmon. It’s hard not to continue to try and rationalize with them or beg them to just try a bite. My husband’s Achilles heal at meals is the bribe – “You can have more of x if you just have a few bites of y.” We’re still working on keeping our commentary restrained.

The best part? The simplicity of the plan. There’s no complicated index with a separate anecdote depending on the situation. Parents and kids each have their own responsibilities when it comes to meals.

When I really just put my faith in the overall philosophy I’ve found that it’s been surprisingly liberating. Does my two-year-old sometimes eat nothing for lunch or dinner? Yes. (At this point, I’m having a hard enough time getting her to remain seated and interested in mealtimes in general. She’d rather be frolicking around the living room than trapped at the dining room table.)

I know that food struggles with kids can be tough. If you’re dealing with a really “picky eater” head on over to read Steph’s Mommy SOS post to see what other moms of picky eaters have to say.

What say you, mom friends? Do you have a strategy you follow for mealtimes that works for your family? Do your kids ever make you want to pull your hair out with their constant food battles?


  1. Love that there is a name for this. This is basically our parenting style when it comes to food. Our kids can eat what we choose to eat, or not. If they don’t eat, they can catch up at the next meal. So far it has worked. I love hearing my 2 year old exclaim “Kale!” when I put it on her plate. We joke that she has a very sophisticated palate.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here