Skip to main content


Parents' guide for picky eaters


Tips for encouraging your picky eater to try new foods

  • Let your child help in the kitchen.
  • Make new foods fun. Allow your child to pick a new fruit or vegetable each time you go to the grocery store.
  • Use cookie cutters to make cool shapes or create funny faces with the food.
  • Pair a new food with one you know your child likes.
  • Be a good role model for your child. They are watching your every move.
  • Don’t give up. Most children will not accept a new food the first time it is given to them. Try cooking the food in different ways.
  • Do not make the child not liking the food a big deal. Offer it to them, and if they do not like it, let them eat something else that is being served.
  • Make it colorful. Visit a farm or farmer’s market and admire the amazing colors of whole foods.
  • Encourage your child’s curiosity about new foods.
  • Veg out at the dinner table, not the TV. Kids may be distracted and not realize whether they are hungry or full.
  • Stick to the routine. Serve meals and snacks around the same time each day.
  • Make every bite count. Add sources of nutrition to increase value:
    • Powdered milk 1 Tbsp = 40 calories, 2g protein
    • Milk to soup or gravies
    • Cheese to vegetables
    • Fruit to pancakes, yogurt, or ice cream


  • We eat not only with our mouths but also with our eyes and nose. The way food looks, smells, or feels can affect whether a child likes or dislikes it.
  • Do not force a child to eat a type of food.
  • Try not to use food as a reward or punishment. Children may learn to use food as a way to have power over their parent.
  • Have patience and be a good example.


If you have questions for the St. Jude dietitians, call the Clinical Nutrition office at 901-595-3318. If you are calling from outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), and dial extension 3318.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).