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Steps to Food Acceptance: A Practical Guide for Helping Your Picky Eater

Chances are your child doesn’t love every food he tries — and that’s normal! But when picky eating becomes a problem, this practical step-by-step guide will help your child transition from food avoidance to food acceptance.

Step 1:

Choose a new food and put a tiny amount (about the size of a pea) on your child’s plate. If your child is particular, don’t let the unfamiliar food touch other accepted foods on the plate. You can even try putting the new food on a separate plate until your child is ready.

Step 2:

Encourage your child to smell the new food on the plate. You can smell it too — your child may try to copy you!

Step 3:

Encourage your child to pick up the new food with a fork or spoon.

Step 4:

Encourage your child to touch the new food with their fingers.

Step 5:

Encourage your child to pick up the new food with their fingers.

Step 6:

Encourage your child to touch the food to their cheek, then to their lips to “kiss the food,” and then to their tongue. Do this at a rate that suits your child — some children may do all steps at one mealtime, others will take several!

Step 7:

Encourage your child to lick the new food and then put it in their mouth. They can remove it without chewing or swallowing.

Step 8:

Encourage your child to bite, chew, and swallow a small amount of the food.

Step 9:

Gradually increase the amount of the new food until your child will eat a “normal” portion. At this point your child has accepted the food! Remember that if your child still does not like the food at this point, that is okay. It may take up to 25 exposures of a new food for your child to enjoy it.

Step 10:

Start the process all over again with another new food!