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Best Buddies Educare Centre

Dealing with Picky Eaters

Dealing with Picky Eaters

Best Buddies blog

Best Buddies blog

How to Win the Food War!

Is your little one a “picky eater”? Do they refuse foods regularly or eat the same foods over and over? If you’re worried that your picky eater is not getting enough nutrition to grow, don’t! In most cases, they will grow just fine.

What to Do About Picky Eating

There are various reasons why your kid is so choosy when it comes to food.

Some kids are sensitive to the textures of certain foods. They might not like the taste or smell so make sure you offer numerous healthy food options during mealtimes. Add one or two of the foods your child does like to ensure they eat something at least.

Offer your little one new kinds of foods regularly. Kids might need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will eat it.

Track your toddler / baby’s food sensitivities. Do they struggle with “mushy” foods? Offer apple slices instead of applesauce, or a baked potato instead of mash for example. Another good idea is to mix the mushy food with a crunchy food that they enjoy eating. Sometimes we have to outsmart our kiddies!

Be careful to just focus on special meals for your child. Make sure there is something they like on the plate, but always give them what the rest of the family is eating. They will earn to like the new foods over time.

Some kids can seem “picky” but actually they just want to feed themselves. Offer them some safe “finger foods” or give your kid a spoon to hold while you’re feeding them. This lets them feel in control as they can “choose” what they want to put in their mouths.

A great idea is to involve your little one during dishing up. Let them decide where their food must go. For example, peas and carrots here, fish fingers there and mash in the middle of the plate.

Some kids seem picky because they struggle to sit still for too long. Set your little one’s meal out before they need to sit. Try to keep mealtimes short, no more than 10 minutes or so. Allow your child to get up when they say they are finished eating. Keep some healthy foods in arm’s reach like bananas or apples so they can get to them when they get hungry.

Finally, you may have a child with a medical issue where it’s difficult for them to swallow or digest particular foods. Seek advice from your health care provider.

What NOT to Do About Picky Eating

Don’t force your child to eat. They usually eat less when forced. Some experts say that forcing children to eat actually increases picky eating behaviours.

Never nag or make deals with your child. “Just one more bite, just two more bites!” “If you eat all your food, you will get dessert.” These strategies fail in the long run. Kids who learn to make deals about eating quickly learn to ask for rewards for everything like brushing teeth or getting dressed. Eventually they won’t do anything unless they can get something out of the deal!

What TO DO With Your Picky Eater:

Eat a wide variety of healthy foods yourself. Make sure to include all the foods you want your child to eat in your own diet.

Prepare meals together. Kids love tasting their own “creation.” Have your little one assist with pouring, mixing and stirring.

Don’t pull your face when you try new foods. If you are a “picky eater” your young one is likely to be one too. Try new foods together and make sure you smile and say “yum” while eating.

What About Dessert?

How do you handle the “dessert issue” when your kid insists that they are done with dinner after eating 5 peas?

Well, you can give them a tiny treat after their meal regardless of how much they ate. This teaches your child that sweet things, when eaten in moderation also have a place. You may find that eventually your child eats more on their plate because they know they will get a cookie etc after they have finished their meal.

A second option is to eliminate sweet things altogether. Some families believe that sweets and sugary treats are not appropriate so instead try offering fresh fruit, dried fruits, cheese sticks or nuts to end the meal.

It’s Recipe Time!

One Pot Spaghetti

Healthy meals are a priority, so is living on a budget. Many of us need to consider the total costs when shopping and planning dinners for the week. This One Pot Spaghetti is cheap and a real hit with the kids. I love that everything is made in one pot, making it a perfect weeknight meal.


500 grams ground beef mince
1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or water
1 can tomato sauce, 500 ml
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5 tsp. salt or to taste
3 tsp. Italian seasoning or pizza seasoning
500 g spaghetti noodles, broken
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded



Brown meat and onions in a large stock pot over medium-high heat until fully cooked.
Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, and spices; bring to a boil.
Add spaghetti, cover pan, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Depending on type of pasta, you might have to add more broth or water as needed for desired consistency.
When spaghetti is tender, top with grated cheese.
Refrigerate leftovers within 2-3 hours.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed our next edition. I can’t wait to share some more information and fun ideas with you to keep the kiddies busy, happy, healthy and excited!

Our Sponsors

Cape Town

Do you want to make a difference in your community, Do you know about our Best Buddies Educational Trust? Learn more about this fantastic initiative that will help an underprivileged child from our local community get 3 daily meals, and a great start to life. Click here to see more.

Lizl Zandberg

Lizl is our friendly Administration Assistant and helps in the Penguins Class. Without this wonderful Best Buddies team-member , daily tasks would become a challenge.

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