Yes, our little ones are special.   Every single one of them!  But should we make special and separate meals for picky eaters?

However, it doesn’t mean that moms and dads should go out of their way to make alternate meals just for them…and then have to whip up another meal to suit the rest of the family.  Let’s talk about how to handle separate meals for picky eaters.

The survey says…

1 in 4 children who are “picky eaters” continue to be picky as adults.  In other words, 25% do not outgrow their reluctance to try new foods unless the right mealtime strategies are used. (Source).

And unfortunately, preparing the same few favourite foods (over and over) and separate meals for picky eaters is one sure way to limit their exposure and ability to grow out of picky eating.

So, from one mom (with a former picky eater) to another….I have to tell you that it’s super important we set our kids up for healthier eating habits sooner than later.  That’s exactly why I show parents exactly how to do this (step-by-step) in the 6-week online program - The Picky Eater Protocol.

separate meals for picky eaters

Alternate meals can backfire

Pressure is one of the biggest reasons why our kids don’t eat well.  Often parents are surprised when I pinpoint things they innocently say or do, that are forms of pressuring their kids to eat.   These are the things that I did at most meals, unaware that they were amplifying my daughter’s pickiness.

Well, preparing separate meals for picky eaters can put pressure on them to eat it.   Even more so if we say “Look what mom made JUST for you“.

The interpretation for most kids will be this:  “Gosh, mommy made this just for me.  That means I have to eat it or she will be disappointed.”  

But what if they ASK for an alternate meal?

Even if your child requests pasta for dinner, you might not make it the way they want it (the pasta is too soft, too al dente, has too much or too little sauce).   Or by the time you make it they’ve decided that’s not actually what they want.   Kids are fickle and unpredictable.

Think about riding a bike for a moment.

If we only let our child ride a tricycle (because that’s what they are comfortable with) how will they learn to ride a two-wheeler?   We need to give them a chance to try a bike with training wheels, then without.  And with multiple tries and some stumbles, they learn how to ride.

separate meals for picky eaters

The same theory applies for meals.  Lots of exposures and stretching beyond their comfort zone will help our little ones expand their variety of foods.

How do they learn to like new foods if they only get plain pasta and grilled cheese?

So…we make separate meals for picky eaters.  But that is not what they want.  And it’s not what you want either, right?  Prepping one meal is time consuming.  Add another meal to that and you’ll feel like you’re spending all day in the kitchen.

What to do instead 

We all want our children to grow up with a healthy repertoire of foods.   So it’s essential that we expose them to more than chicken nuggets and cheese.

You are responsible of WHAT is served, at every meal.  Sure, we can give kids a choice every once in a while but things don’t usually turn out so well (because they change their minds and of course, we get frustrated after putting in the effort).

So, make one meal for your family

The goal is for everyone to eat what is offered - the same meal.  As long as there is something there your child can eat as well and in a decent quantity.  Be it carrots, crackers, hummus, applesauce, etc.  Placing these favourites on the table will:

  • help your child feel comfortable coming to the table.
  • give you peace of mind that there is always something there they can eat if hungry

They don’t have to eat or even touch the new foods.  Just getting them on the table is a step in the right direction.

If you’re not sure of what types of meals to make for your family and your little one, you’ll want to grab this 5-Day Meal Plan for Picky Eaters for some inspiration!

Ready to simplify your meal prep and cook one meal tonight?  Let me know how it goes in the comments!