Special Parent Information
Some kids reject new tastes and textures, while others show
their independence through eating – or not eating – the food
they’re offered. But, even picky eaters can learn to like
fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods and beverages.
Try these strategies to create a
positive eating environment and avoid
struggles during mealtimes.
the dip. Toddlers and preschoolers
love dipping, so try serving veggies
with yogurt, hummus, low-fat dressing,
or low-fat melted cheese.
children help make the food. When
kids help stir and add ingredients, they
feel proud of what they’ve made and may
be more likely to try new, healthy
foods. For kid-friendly recipes and
snacks kids can create, check out our
Healthy Eating page.
a game or lesson around trying new food.
For example, when teaching children
about states in the US or other
countries, bring in a fruit or vegetable
from those places. Have children who are
interested in trying the new food take a
bite and share their thoughts about it.
When picky eaters hear where the food
comes from and what their friends are
saying about it, they might want to try
use food as a reward or punishment.
Avoid forcing children to finish the
“healthy foods” to get to their dessert.
That can make the healthy foods seem
like punishment and force children to
eat when they are full.
give up! A child’s frown can be
discouraging. But, remember it may take
10 to 15 tries for infants, toddlers,
and preschoolers to accept a new food.
Plus, teaching kids to appreciate
healthy foods early on will help them to
develop healthy eating habits that can
continue as they grow up. For more tips
and resources, visit the
Let’s Move! Child Care Web site.
a good example. Remember that you’re
an important role model! Try the
nutritious meals and snacks you offer
kids. When they see you eating and
enjoying healthy foods, they might
choose to eat healthy foods too.
As you try these strategies, talk with
parents about how you’re encouraging
picky eaters to eat healthy. Better yet,
work with parents as partners to teach
kids’ taste buds to enjoy fruits,
vegetables, and other nutritious foods.
For example, provide parents with an
easy-to-read material on how to teach
healthy eating habits. One helpful
resource is the article “Toddlers
at the Table: Avoiding Power Struggles”.
Promoting healthy eating will help your
program achieve the Let’s Move!
Child Care (LMCC) goals focused on
nutrition. We encourage you to use the
LMCC Checklist Quiz as a resource to
help you identify opportunities to
promote nutrition and physical activity,
and build a customized action plan to
help you reach your goals.
Let’s Move! Child Care
(LMCC) is a nationwide call-to-action
that empowers early care and education (ECE)
providers to make positive health
changes in children that could last a
lifetime. ECE providers who choose to
participate in LMCC are recognized when
they meet a set of best practices
related to the five LMCC Goals—physical
activity, screen time, food, beverages,
and infant feeding. To help providers
reach their goals, a number of online
interactive tools—including a Checklist
Quiz and action planning guide—have been
developed through a public-private
partnership between the White House, the
Department of Health and Human Services,
the National Association for Child Care
Resource & Referral Agencies, Nemours,
and the University of North Carolina
Center for Health Promotion and Disease
Prevention and other partners.