This article discusses 5 ways to get your picky eater to eat foods they used to like, but stopped eating.
When your picky eater starts to refuse food they used to love, it can feel like all your progress has come to a screeching halt. For those who already have extremely limited food options, refusal of foods they used to like can be quite scary.
Kids naturally shift their food preferences and can make seemingly random decisions about what they eat as they learn they have choices.
It’s important to remember that it is normal for kids to go through phases. Just because your child suddenly stops eating a particular food does not mean they will never eat it again.
As a parent of a picky eater, you can support your child through a phase of food rejection by encouraging variety and working to preserve preferred food without pressuring them to eat.
How to Get Your Picky Eater to Eat Foods They Used to Like
Take a Break
Getting your child to enjoy an old favorite might be as simple as taking a break. Try keeping it out of sight and then offering it again in a couple of weeks. By then, they might find that they’ve missed it and feel ready to eat it again.
Try Offering a Similar Food
Use this phase as an opportunity to try other foods. Offering a food that has a similar taste and texture to the food your child started to reject can increase variety and help keep the other food in mind. For example, if your child suddenly stops eating apples, give pears a try.
Invite Them to Help Prepare It
Involvement in the kitchen is a great way to help kids feel more comfortable around food and can help them be more open-minded about trying new foods. Plus, involvement in food preparation increases incentive to eat. Let your child know that they do not have to eat but do invite them to participate in food prep. They can help you cook a recipe, or, if the food is more simple like a piece of fruit, invite them to help wash and slice it.
Change How You Serve the Food
Sometimes a rejection occurs because a child is tired of eating the same food prepared the same way. Mixing up the way the food is served or prepared might change the way your child receives it and can get your picky eater to eat foods they used to like. Think back to that apple. If your child typically eats it in thin slices, try serving thick wedges. You can also peel it, try a different variety, or try something more different like applesauce or baked apple chips.
Experiment with Food Exploration
Food exploration is a fun, powerful tool for trying new foods and reintroducing previously preferred foods and can help you get your picky eater to eat foods they used to like. Through food exploration, kids can engage with food without any pressure to eat. Food exploration is an effective way to keep the preferred food in your child’s world without the need to eat. Think of it as a “change of scenery” and a new way to engage with the food.
Possibilities for food exploration are endless. Find what interests your child and go with it. For apple slices you could try:
- Dipping them in chocolate sauce and write with them
- Stacking them up to make a tower
- Laying them flat and arrange them to make circles, flower, or funny faces
When your picky eater suddenly stops liking a food they used to love, don’t flip out! It’s common to feel like you need to resort to extreme measures to get your picky eater to eat foods they used to like. But food rejection is a normal part of development and diet expansion. Still, there are things you can do to make sure your child doesn’t permanently retire these foods from their diet.
Give yourself a few weeks to give these tips a try. Not seeing any progress and still trying to get your picky eater to eat foods they used to like? Grab your FREE guide with 5 simple steps to help your child learn to comfortably and confidently taste new foods.