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Fill-in-Blank News Release
For County Health Departments

The Perils of Parenting: Picky Eaters

For Release: __________
Contact & Phone Number: __________

If you are the parent of a toddler, you may be experiencing premature hair loss as you pull your hair out trying to deal with the frustrations of having a picky eater. This very common trait of children who are between the ages of 18 months and 3 years is troubling – and frustrating – for parents who are concerned their child may not be getting enough to eat.

“The first approach parents should take if they have a picky eater is to contact their health care provider and have their child checked to make sure the child’s weight and height are within normal range,” said (name & title), _____ County Health Department. “If the child’s physical development is within normal range, then parents should recognize their child is not likely to starve and will usually grow just fine.”

_____ said there might be several reasons why children are picky eaters:

  • Some children simply do not like the tastes of certain foods.
  • Some children want to feed themselves and their pace and skill level may not meet parent expectations.
  • Some children may eat more than enough food on one day and hardly any the next day.
  • Some children feel overwhelmed by a large quantity of food on their plate.
  • Some children use the opportunity to assert their independence by refusing to eat.

To encourage healthy eating habits, _____ suggests that parents try to serve meals and snacks about the same time each day. “Plan three small meals a day with about two to three healthy snacks throughout the day,” (s/he) said. “To help make mealtime and snacks be a relaxing time, turn off the TV and keep toys away from the table,” (s/he) continued.

Parents can also offer their child choices about the foods he or she will eat. Ask: “Would you like oatmeal or cold cereal for breakfast?” or “Would you like to have an apple or banana for your snack?”

“You can also help your child focus on his or her body’s signals for hunger and being full,” _____ said. “You can say, ‘It seems like your tummy is full since you stopped eating your cereal,’ or ‘You’re asking for a snack, so your tummy must be hungry.’”

_____ also suggested these ideas to encourage picky eaters to eat:

  • Buy nutritious foods and offer them in a neutral manner.
  • Allow children to feed themselves. (And be prepared for the mess!)
  • Serve small quantities of food. A serving for a young child is only about one tablespoon per year of age.
  • Offer new foods in very small quantities along with familiar foods.

“Perhaps most important, remember that you are your child’s best example,” _____ emphasized, “so make sure your child sees you eating healthy foods and drinking healthy beverages!”

For more information about parenting, including how to handle a picky eater, call or visit the _____ County Health Department. (Additional information can be added here on well child clinics, parenting classes, etc.)       


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