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Have Patience, You've Got a Picky Eater!

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Many preschoolers are now actually good company at mealtime. They generally view eating as a natural response to hunger and meals as a pleasant social experience and a time to show they are grown. Sounds great, doesn't it? That's putting the good news first.

The Potato Chip Diet

It is also common for 3- to 5-year-olds to develop (seemingly overnight) specific food preferences, meaning in some cases they'll eat only yellow foods or foods covered completely by applesauce. They are very insistent about what they will eat. In other cases, the selection shrinks to five foods total, one of them potato chips. Then there are the ones who can't get enough of something on Wednesday and reject the same food absolutely on Thursday. That can be frustrating, to say the least.

One thing a parent needs to accept: Inconsistency rules the day, so don't get flustered. Your child may be less hungry some days because she was less active the day before. Or she may be the victim of a whim. Or she may have seen another child eating something you'd never think of feeding her for dinner, such as a jelly doughnut. But take heart: When children are stubborn about eating at this age, it is part of learning to be independent and in control.


 
 
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What's on the menu these days? Our kids will thrive on soft table foods — unsalted and cut into small pieces — plus baby cereal and milk. It can be good to introduce foods with different textures, too, to expand their palate. Learn more.
Read Child-Friendly Cuisine
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Is your child eating only a few foods these days, or not eating as much as before? Try not to worry, as this is a normal pattern for kids at this age. Check out these smart mealtime strategies for a picky toddler.
Read Feeding Your Toddler: 18 Months to 2 Years