How to Handle Picky Eaters: What are the Research-Proven Strategies?

After reviewing five studies, we recommend that parents let children (including infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school age children) be repeatedly exposed to new food or food they initially don't like (such as vegetables) for a number of meals according to the child’s age.

For infants: Feed them for at least eight subsequent meals, for example by feeding the vegetable puree that they initially disliked on 8 alternate days, and the food they initially liked on the other days.

For toddlers & preschoolers: about five times to 2 weeks exposure is sufficient to increase intake. For example, you could give them a few small bites of vegetables (alone, not with other food) persistently; this could have a lasting impact on whether your child likes the vegetable. In addition, letting them eat it with dips that they like can encourage them to try it.

For elementary school students: about 2 weeks of exposure can enhance children's acceptance of the food they originally disliked.

Created on November 21 2015 at 08: 00 AM

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1: "I Don'T Like It; I Never Tried It: Effects Of Exposure On Two-Year-Old Children'S Food Preferences," Appetite, 1982, by LL Birch, DW Marlin. (Citations: 688).

The relationship between frequency of exposure to foods and preference for those foods was investigated in two experiments. Participants in both studies were twoyear-old children. In Experiment I, each of six children received 20, IS, 10, 5 or 2 exposures of five initially ...

2: "Modifying Children'S Food Preferences: The Effects Of Exposure And Reward On Acceptance Of An Unfamiliar Vegetable," European Journal Of Clinical, 2003, by J Wardle, ML Herrera, L Cooke. (Citations: 363).

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate two interventions (one reward-based and one exposure-based) for increasing children's acceptance of an unfamiliar vegetable compared with a no-treatment control. It was predicted that the exposure condition would ...

3: "Repeated Exposure And Associative Conditioning Promote Preschool Children'S Liking Of Vegetables," Appetite, 2012, by S Anzman-Frasca, JS Savage, ME Marini, JO Fisher. (Citations: 75).

Most young children do not meet current dietary recommendations, consuming too many energy-dense foods and too few nutrient-dense foods like vegetables. We compared two approaches to increasing children's liking of vegetables by having them repeatedly taste ...

4: "Effects Of Repeated Exposure On Acceptance Of Initially Disliked Vegetables In 7-Month Old Infants," Food Quality and Preference, 2007, by A Maier, C Chabanet, B Schaal, S Issanchou. (Citations: 74).

In the weeks following the start of weaning, 70 mothers were asked to identify a vegetable pure that their infant disliked and that they normally would not offer again. The 49 who did so were then asked to offer that vegetable on alternate days for 16days, and to offer a well ...

5: "Repetition Counts: Repeated Exposure Increases Intake Of A Novel Vegetable In Uk Pre-School Children Compared To Flavourflavour And Flavournutrient Learning," British Journal of Nutrition, 2013, by SJ Caton, SM Ahern, E Remy. (Citations: 29).

Abstract Children are not consuming sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables in their habitual diet. Methods derived from associative learning theories could be effective at promoting vegetable intake in pre-school children. The objective of the present study was ...

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How to Handle Picky Eaters: What are the Research-Proven Strategies?

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