Updated 16 May 2014

Feeding a picky eater

If your child is a picky eater you will know how difficult it is to feed them. We get a clinical paediatric dietitian to advise.

If your child is a picky eater you will know how difficult it is to feed them. Kath Megaw, a Clinical Paediatric Dietician has some advice on how to cope with a picky eater.

"Consistency is key. Some parents are far better at being consistent than others, but it’s no mystery why most parenting books will tell you it’s one of the most important things when it comes to discipline and children. And it applies to food, too. If you are consistent, whether it’s with your household rules, chores, or consequences for behaviours, the children know exactly what their limits are. If you stray from your rules and consequences, even once, the child doesn’t know when she will get away with something and when she won’t. These are general guidelines, of course, and there are always exceptions," she says.

However, one thing is clear, she adds - if you want your child to realise that you are the one who decides what and when he eats, you want him to know you trust him to be the one who decides how much or whether he eats at all, and you want him to know without a shadow of a doubt that you will not be his short-order cook anymore, you absolutely have to be consistent.

5 dos and don'ts


1. Offer nutritious food.

2. Have at least one sit-down family meal a day.

3. Have planned, healthy snacks halfway between meals.

4. Offer the “one treat a day” rule to discourage eating dinner to get dessert.

5. Let your child determine how much and whether she eats at all.


1. Bribe, threaten, coax, plead, or disguise food.

2. Prepare special meals for your child if she doesn’t like what you’re having for dinner.

3. Offer snacks throughout the day, even if your child didn’t eat much during mealtime.

4. Engage in arguments or negotiations about food with your child.

5. Don’t give up.

Reference: Kath Megaw, Clinical Paediatric Dietician. For more information visit

(Amy Froneman, Health24, May 2012)

(Picture: Picky eater from Shutterstock)




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Teen angst »

Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst

Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being.

Lifestyle changes »

Lifestyle changes helped new dad shed more than 20kg

Erik Minaya started to put on the kilos during his first year year in college. By age 24, he tipped the scale at nearly 120kg. But then he cut out fast food, replacing it with lower-carb offerings that he prepared himself.