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How to handle a picky eater in a pandemic



Pediatrician-approved tips to get your kid to eat well

Pediatrician-approved tips to get your kid to eat well


If you have a picky eater, you probably have more trouble than usual getting them to eat nutritious food during the pandemic. It’s a stressful time, with less strict scheduling and more chaos, and these factors can make choosy kids even less open to trying healthful food at a time when their lifelong eating habits are being formed.

Rather than throw up your hands and just surrender to a plate of colorless, processed fare, prepared at any old time of the day, pediatrician Dr. Patty Sabey has come up with a helpful list of suggestions to get through this rough patch with the conviction that you are looking out for your kids’ health, despite all the new challenges.  

Parents can use her five strategies to encourage picky eaters to try new things, including a reliable game Dr. Sabey plays with her own kids. That’s right: getting your kid to eat right can be fun.

READ MORE: Working with picky eaters

When the pandemic was declared in March and schools shut down, one of the many things families needed to do overnight was figure out how and when to feed their kids.  Most families I know had so much going on, so much scrambling, they just stocked their pantries and refrigerators with whatever they could find on shelves and, feeling both anxious and sorry for their kids (for a number of reasons), they let any “food rules” slide.

Now that we’re eight months in, and school is back in session both online and, for some, on site, we’re back to a semblance of predictability. Dr. Sabey says sticking to a schedule is especially important. “Sometimes making a list or a simple overview of the schedule for the day with mealtimes, family time, and break time can help your children set some expectations,” she advises. This eases tensions and helps kids be more adventurous with their meals.

Among other helpful tips, Dr. Sabey advises families to eat together, to mix old favorites with new foods, and to go grocery shopping together.

Five Tips
from a pediatrician and mom of four kids

  • In general, stick to a schedule
  • Arrange sit down mealtimes
  • Get the family involved in food planning
  • Add favorites to meals
  • Be creative with food


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