How can I feed my picky eater at my Mom's Thanksgiving feast?

Thanksgiving dinner might feel like comfort food to adults, but for toddlers, it is a table full of new colors, textures, tastes, and experiences. To keep your child’s first experience with these new foods as positive, and low pressure, as possible, try serving some of the dishes you will have at Thanksgiving dinner beforehand at a regular dinner. You can also involve your child in preparing the meal, as children are often more willing to try something they have had a hand in making. Another fun idea is creating a new dish to add to your Thanksgiving dinner that you and your toddler have come up with together. You can also try arranging food in a fun way on your child’s plate, or making a game out of tasting new foods by asking him/her to rate each dish. While it’s okay to encourage your child to “try a bite”, avoid negotiating with your child when it comes to trying new foods. As parents, our responsibility is to prepare and serve healthy meals. It is your child’s responsibility to decide which of these healthy foods to eat and how much to eat. This teaches your child to listen to his/her body and make healthy food choices.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.