Picky Eaters: 3 common problems and solutions

We all want the best for our children and that includes good eating habits. It can be frustrating or worrisome when children are fussy or picky eaters. Your child may refuse to eat part or all of the family meal or only want certain food for school lunches.

If mealtimes are a struggle, following these tips will help your child develop better eating habits

  1. Dinner is spent arguing about eating and I often make separate meals. What can I do?
    Make one meal for the family. Don’t make a separate meal. Be kind but firm and follow through with not making separate meals. Mealtimes will be more enjoyable and your child will learn to eat a variety of food when you both stick to your own “jobs”. You decide what food to serve and your child decides if and how much to eat.

    Also try to: Š Offer a balanced meal. Include foods from 3-4 food groups per meal. Offer at least one food your child will eat so she won’t go hungry. Š Serve food in platters or bowls. Let your child serve herself. Š Resist the urge to comment on what or how much your child eats. Š If you have dessert, keep it to one small portion. Serve fruit often. Š After dinner, offer only water until evening snack time. Offer a small healthy snack.

  2. How do I know if my school-age child is getting enough?
    If your child is growing well, seems healthy and happy he is likely doing fine. When your child grows faster, he will eat more and when he grows slower, he will eat less. There is no need for concern about the odd skipped meal. Contact your child’s health care provider if you still have concerns.
  3. Should I give my child a vitamin-mineral supplement?
    Most children do not need supplements. Talk to your child’s health care provider before offering supplements. Whole foods offer more nutrition than supplements can provide.


If you still have concerns or questions, contact your child’s health care provider. Go to www.adsa.org.za for a list of registered dietitians in your area or visit my Facebook page, Registered Dietitian for information on my next picky eating workshop for mothers and caregivers.

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