Do you ever find dinnertime resembling less of a family meal and more of a Wild West showdown? As in: Eat this, OR ELSE! You’re not alone. Finicky eaters are quite common, doctors say, in kids younger than 11—and particularly in the two- to five-year-old crowd. And that can turn supper into an exhausting, exasperating battle of wills. Don’t panic. Here are top tips for parents from the experts on how to deal with your fussy dinner guest.


First of all, relax. Realize you’re not alone, and this, too, shall pass. It might be a genetic sensitivity to certain tastes and textures, or it might be a phase associated with your child’s growth development.

Get to yes

Include one YES on the plate. If your child loves Little Potatoes, for example, then give her Little Potatoes plus two unknowns, and encourage her to try at least one bite of each. Having one known item in the mix eases the tension.

Stay calm

Don’t lose your temper. (It won’t help.)

Be positive

Heap on the praise when he tastes something new.

Choose together

Take your kids shopping and let them choose some healthy ingredients. They’ll be much more likely to eat them. Ditto for cooking with you.


Non-food rewards and incentives are good. If she samples something new, give her a sticker or a quarter.

Take off the heat

Encourage, but don’t pressure.

Offer, often

Keep putting it out there, and one day—thanks to repeated exposure (up to 20 times, usually)—they might just try it, even like it!


Most importantly, model good eating behavior yourself. If you don’t eat that kale, why should they?


Serving a dinner you already know they love at least once a week will ensure a big win—and one stress-free meal, of course.

Try these kid-approved Little Potato recipes: easy, fun and appealing to children’s palates. Good luck!


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