Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X
Way to Grow Header

Selective Eaters

(757) 668-7000


“Picky” or selective eating can be common in young children. Appetite can change from day to day. The child is the best judge of how much food they should eat, and the parent is the best judge of what is healthy to eat. By following the tips below parents can promote healthy eating habits.


  • If your child is still taking a bottle after age 1, take it away.
       • Drinking too much can decrease interest in table foods.
  • Be a good “food model” by showing your child that you enjoy healthy foods.
  • Children like routine. Try to eat meals at the same time and place most days.
  • Avoid using food as a reward for good behavior. Food is nutrition not a prize.
  • Offer new foods with liked foods.
  • Limit snacks close to meal time.
  • It may take many tries for your child to accept a new food.
  • Offer foods in many different preparation methods (raw, steamed, roasted, etc.). 
    • They may not like broccoli cooked but they could like it raw.
  • Do not punish your child if they do not like a new food or eat all of their food.

When to be concerned:

Contact your child’s doctor if your child:

  • Will not eat any foods from one or more food groups.
  • Is losing weight or has not gained weight in 6 months.
  • Has difficulty swallowing.

Recommended Foods

Dairy Products

  • Milk – whole milk for children < 1 year. Low fat milk for children > 1 year
  • Soy Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheeses

Protein Foods

Chicken, pork, fish, beef, eggs, soy, nuts, nut butters, beans


Make most of your grains whole brown rice, wheat bread, wheat pasta, wheat cereal, oatmeal, etc.


  • Aim for at least 2-3 servings/day
  • Offer a variety of different colored vegetables
  • Canned in water, frozen, and fresh are all acceptable options


  • Aim for at least 2 servings/day
  • Offer a variety of different colored fruits
  • Canned in water or juice, frozen, and fresh are all acceptable options.

Fats and Oils

Choose heart healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and canola oil.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/2018

(757) 668-7000