” Our role as parents is to try to remind ourselves how important and necessary this step is for our children on their way to becoming independent people. All while appearing to remain calm and in control while these power struggles over broccoli begin.”

Making it Through Mealtime With A Picky Eater


Making it through Mealtime with a “ Picky Eater”: A Mama 2 Mama  Survival  Guide to Managing Meltdowns and Outright Battles at the Table!


Most Moms will tell you that along with the anxiety that comes with Motherhood one of the most stressful times is meal time. Worries about what to feed our little ones? How much? How Often? What not to feed them? How to get them to eat fruits and veggies? Dealing with Sugary Snacks and sweets and More! Mix in a Strong Minded Toddler and, you have the Recipe for Meltdowns and in some cases outright battles at mealtime!

Well, fear Not Weary Mamas! We’ve got some words of wisdom from one battle-tested Mama backed by Health u0026amp; Nutrition Experts.  And most importantly?  Mamas.

When Parents have a realistic understanding of what their child can do and handle emotionally?  The solution is “ baked into the cake”!  Within that moment try thinking about it like this…. When parents have realistic expectations of what our little ones can do and understand the emotional reasons why children seem to fall apart at the table just because we asked them to try some broccoli, for instance,  the stress level goes down for everyone.!  Knowing what to expect, handling the challenges that follow, and remaining calm through it all is challenging. However, practicing these ideas is empowering for you and calming for your child too!

First, let’s talk about it! Do you have a picky eater at your table? Is your pint-size mini driving you crazy with their demands for mac and cheese EVERY Night? Do you worry that your child will turn into a chicken nugget if they don’t start trying new foods? Are you losing sleep over the fact that you lost it and sent your little one to bed hungry and hysterical?  Do you drift off into daydreams of your beautiful family eating and laughing together only to be shocked back to reality by the sound of your mini’s lip quivering tears and outright hysterics? Do you want to know more? 

Let’s Set the Table Together! The term “ picky” eater usually refers to a child ( or an adult too) who either downright refuses to eat certain foods or continually eats the same foods over and over again( the chicken nugget child ?. Little ones can hold tighten their mouths, look away, turn their heads or even break out into tears over eating new foods. Stressful? Yes, but it doesn’t have to be.

Little ones around the age of 1 can start to show signs of being “picky” about what they are eating. It is no coincidence that their preference for certain foods starts to show itself at around the very same time that he or she becomes increasingly fascinated with feeding him/herself. As your child grows so does their sense of independence! This is often seen as one of the very first times you as a parent might see your little one exert his or her “power.” They can control what they put into their mouths or not! Be ten bites or none.  Your little one has found some degree of control over what happens to him. Our role as parents is to try to remind ourselves how important and necessary this step is for our children on their way to becoming independent people. All while appearing to remain calm and in control while these power struggles over broccoli begin. So as they figure this out, they may eat a lot one day and barely anything the next. Typical? Yes! Big Changes are happening very quickly for our little people! Growing is happening at what seems like lightning speed. So best to hang on and hang in! This too shall pass.

At around the 2-year mark, growth slows down a bit. However, you may find your toddler less interested in sitting down to full meals opting instead to “ grab and go” as they continue to focus on what is their main goal at the moment. Be that walking, talking, climbing, running or some combination of all of those. Learning new skills take center stage for now. Try not to over think it. Recognize that this is just a brief moment in time and it will end. As children try to learn a new skill, the need for things to remain the same becomes very important. Children naturally like routine and predictability. Knowing what to expect and what comes next is comforting to little ones as they take on new tasks. So that shows itself in toddlers who continually ask for the same foods over and over again! The same familiar foods or food combinations helps children feel safe and secure during times of big change.

Knowing what is really going on for your child during times of challenge and change gives you powerful insights as a mother. You can take this new wisdom and use it to help guide your decisions. Helping you to decide how you are going to react and respond to your child’s behavior as they grow! As the saying goes, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it! ( Charles Swindell)

Dianne Galante is a Former Suffolk County Infant Toddler Coordinator for NYS Infant/Toddler Resource Network. Suffolk County Program Development Specialist.  Early Childhood Specialist.  NYS Health and Safety Curriculum Approved Trainer.  A Nanny and a Mama!