Do you have your very own Ollie at home – the world’s pickiest eater? Are mealtimes a drama? Here are some tips that are tried and true to make life easier, and mealtimes more enjoyable for everyone.  

We all have the perfect dinnertime in our heads… your child is happily munching away on a meal you have lovingly crafted. Everyone is calm. In reality… you are in a rush, your sweet little toddler is wiping it in their hair, on the table and even on the wall. And this is where you might see evidence of Ollie in your kid – a picky child, who doesn’t want to eat anything you’ve served. So much for nutrition! 

In this battle of wills, how do we make this easier, for all of us?  

Here’s what I found out by talking with food, nutrition and behavioral experts on what is proved to work in the field (well… at the table!)[1].

P.S. If you’re like me and want to know more, check the expert sources in my footnotes.   

  1. How much is enoughYour picky eater may eat like a bird at breakfast and like a lion at lunch. While it’s reassuring to see food go down, it’s best to look at what they’re eating by the day or week – not by each meal. Most young children will vary to their hunger meal by meal[2].
  2. Small tummiesI was amazed to find toddlers’ tummies are only the size of their own small closed fist[3]. With this in mind, it can be unrealistic to expect them to eat a large meal in one sitting. Keep this in mind when serving up.
  3. RoutinesWith small tummies like I just said, it’s better all-around to keep mealtimes regular. Then little bellies know when to expect the next energy boost! Normally 3 meals and 2 snacks will keep them fueled like Ollie, with their own food superpowers.
  4. Hangry tantrums? If there is a toddler melt down pending (yup, we know how you feel!), and they can’t wait for the food to cook, you can offer the meal in reverse – yogurt can be a starter, not a dessert! It keeps them entertained while you cook. And you can prime them for the meal by asking – what Ollie super-powers they will get from the food you will serve next?
  5. Two Food Rules: Food is one area where children can take some control. From my research, giving children limited choices can stop a lot of power struggles. Here are two simple rules that the experts say help. First rule, you choose the healthy foods you want to serve. For instance, for a snack “Do you want a carrots or peas?” Second, your child can decide on what and how much they eat. Kids like choices![4]
  6. Visual reminders! Behavioral experts recommend that having fruit visible means that you are more likely to eat it[5]! Dial up your kids’ interests with some bright bananas or red apples in a bowl on the table so they can see them – and ask them what Ollie super-powers they can get. Read the storybook to them or invent your own funny fruit super-powers.  

Still worried? If you are concerned about your child’s eating, don’t think twice about making a visit to your pediatrician. They can reassure and advise you. And fortunately for parents everywhere, children tend to grow out of fussy eating habits. Phew!

Tip – remember, you choose what they eat, but they choose how much to eat.   

Please share your best picky eater tips with us – and win a signed copy of the storybook Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate! Join our conversation on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Making every meal an adventure  

Messy fun! Sheena x


[1] [How To Handle Picky Eaters]

[2] [The Variability of Young Children’s Every Intake]

[3] [How To Handle Picky Eaters]

[4]  [Feeding Toddlers – Introduction]

[5]  [Eat Better By Making Healthy Food More Visible]