There are a lot of parents who face some level of picky eating at their house. From the age-appropriate neophobia of two year olds and toddlers to the extreme problem feeding associated with tongue ties, special needs, or sensory processing difficulties, facing mealtime can feel stressful (or impossible!). We’re in the thick of another round of feeding therapy for Sophie, but I thought I’d share some of our favorite resources for parents with picky eaters. In no particular order…
by Karen Le Billon
I talk about these books all the time, so if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love them. I own both and refer to them often. When author Karen Le Billon moved to France with her family, they were thrown into a bit of cultural shock when it came to food and eating. No longer was her daughter attending preschool with a PB&J and some fishy crackers for lunch. Nope. Those little toddlers were trying fish, liver, beets and eating them at a table with fabric napkins and silverware. Le Billon loved French food but didn’t quite know how to help her daughters learn to eat more French than American.
French Kids Eat Everything gives you a taste of what they did to change their mode of eating at home, and Getting to YUM provides a more in-depth step-by-step approach you can implement at your own kitchen table. I thought these books were very accessible, and I really, really recommend them.
by Jenny Rosenstrach
I love Jenny Rosenstrach’s blog. She’s honest and real, and oh my does she make some tasty-looking meals! Dinner: A Love Story chronicles some of her efforts to really make dinner a family meal. It wasn’t easy for her family, and she walks through some of the challenges they faced. She has picky eaters at her house (don’t mention eggs to her daughters), and Dinner: The Playbook walks through some of the specific strategies they use in their house for helping their daughters expand their palates.
My favorite tip from these books is a simple one: try breaking meals into components. If you have picky eaters and someone hates chicken and someone won’t think about touching lettuce, serving a chicken salad or chicken tacos can be tricky. Instead, break down the meal and serve the components separately. The whole family is still eating the same meal, but everyone can assemble it as they like. Removes a fight about mixed foods and still provides the chance for everyone to try new foods. Brilliant. We do this all the time at our house, separating pasta from sauce, for instance, and letting the kids dip their noodles in as they see fit.
If you’ve read this far and you think, “Well, that sounds nice, but my child won’t even touch a vegetable and we can hardly get through a meal without a fight. We’re not ready to learn about eating beets and fish,” I would like to give you a big hug and say “sister, I hear you.”
According to all the books and all the specialists we’ve worked with over the years, we’ve been doing the “right” things. We present a wide variety of foods to our children. We don’t short-order cook. We try to include fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. And guess what? Sophie won’t eat mixed foods, vegetables, or chicken, beef, pork, or fish. Milo won’t eat rice, pasta, potatoes (including French fries!), pancakes, waffles, meats, or vegetables.
Time to bring out the big guns.
by Dr. Katja Rowell
This book is the most intensive approach for the children who might be classified as problem feeders (eating fewer than 20 foods) or extreme picky eaters (EPE). If your child gags or vomits when presented new foods, throws fits or tantrums, or experiences high levels of anxiety around food, those are good signs you need some extra help. I first recommend seeking out the advice of a dietician or feeding therapist, preferably one who works with children. To supplement, this book has been a great one and more or less sums up all the counsel we’ve been given by our various therapists and specialists over the years.
I hope you find something helpful here. We’ve learned a lot of tricks and methods in our feeding therapy (and through lots of trial and error). I think I may share those in another post, but I’d love to know what books or blogs have helped YOU with your picky eater?