My Approach to the Toddler Picky Eating Phase: This Too Shall Pass


toddler picky eating

My daughter Ilse has always been a good eater and drinker. She loved baby food and adult food early. Ilse learned how to use a fork and spoon before she could walk so that she would not have to wait for me to feed her. Ilse ate whatever you put in front of her. I thought that I had hit the child jackpot with her hearty appetitpicky e and thirst for milk. Ilse has even been good at taking medicine. We don’t have to tackle her for her to take her Tylenol (for teething or fever) or antibiotics. She takes it happily.

In the last year or so, my once easy eater developed quite the picky palette. All my parent friends warned me that the “picky eating” phase would come, as it strikes most children. I was resistant to the notion of it until Ilse stopped liking carrots and sweet potatoes. She refused my pan-seared pork chops and Sunday roast beef. And no sandwiches either! I tried to continue making one meal for our family of three, but I would always end up putting together a quick soup after she stared at her meal and refused to eat it. Besides that, a few other tactics I tried included: hiding veggies in stews (which she asked us to pick out), letting her pick out veggies at the grocery store (which did not translate to her eating then for dinner), and chopping them into bite-size pieces for easier eating. If you have other suggestions, please share them with me.

Rather than continue fighting my child to eat more vegetables, I gave in and began making two meals. For us, it’s more important to eat together versus share the same meal.  For Ilse, I stock up fresh and dried noodles, canned green beans, low-sodium broth, and turkey kielbasa sausage. For the sake of ease, I make sure we are eating the same starch: rice or noodles. Ilse eats soup with rice or noodles every day. Occasionally, she will devour a bowl of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, but only if the noodles are shaped like Paw Patrol characters.  I can cook her meal in under ten minutes, which leaves me plenty of time to cook the adult dinner for my husband and me. There are worse trade-offs.

Dining out at restaurants has also posed some challenges for us due to Ilse’s picky palette. Fast food and American food are not her favorites, but she loves a Margherita pizza. We tend to eat anywhere that offers rice, noodles, and soup. Fortunately, our neighborhood offers an abundance of options. Our newest favorite is Hikari Sushi & Bar: sushi for us, and Udon soup for Ilse. Win for everyone!

While it worries me that Ilse eats the same foods every day, Ilse still eats well. She drinks milk at most meals and loves fruit. At school, Ilse is at least willing to try the new foods that they introduce during class. I’ll take the baby steps towards eating more variety of foods as a win. When Ilse asks me, “Can I try it,” I will try not to jump for joy. As everyone minds me, this picky palette is just a phase.


Previous articleEnter the Magical Attic Holiday Coloring Contest!
Next articleTry an Advent of Kindness this Year
Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here