How can I get my picky toddler to eat more? Picky Eating

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When your child seems to live on air and animal crackers, you might be desperate to get her to eat more nutritious foods at mealtime. Here's what an expert and other moms recommend for encouraging a picky eater.

Watch the Snacks & Offer Variety

"Pique your child's interest and add some fun to mealtimes. Avoiding snacks or milk an hour before meals can optimize eating at mealtimes. Give your child small servings of two to four foods and allow her to follow her hunger cues and ask for more if desired. If you have specific concerns, talk with your pediatrician." -- Jessica McGee, MS, RD, clinical nutrition manager at Children's National Health System

Try Hand Feeding

"I hand-feed my son often. He loves it, and eats so much better when I help him. He is completely capable, but prefers the help. Sometimes you have to ignore what's expected, and do what works."

Don't Comment on the Food

"I've found that commenting on what she's eating, even if I'm complimenting her on eating something, will make her stop eating it. I try to not make any comments at all. That worked better for us."

Dinner Doesn't Have to Be Big

"My daughter is a fairly good eater, but doesn't like eating dinner, no matter what's served. I've resorted to making sure she gets the largest portion of nutrients and variety before 3 p.m. so that, if she doesn't eat her dinner, it's not a big deal nutrition-wise."

Provide Healthy Snacks

"I leave things such as crackers, cereal, veggies, or other finger foods on the table for my son to graze on. He doesn't feel pressured and will pick up a couple while he is playing."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.