Picky Eaters -- Should You Reward Them?

Cynthia Dermody
baby in high chair

Photo by sweatjpea

Plenty of experts say that you shouldn't make a big deal out of a child refusing certain foods. When they are hungry, they'll eat. If they don't eat it the first time, just keep serving it and eventually they may give in.

All this sounds really good on paper but it's a different story when you're sitting at the table, forehead in hands, exasperated that your older baby has only eaten bread and crackers for the past three days.

diamondmamma in Answers was thrilled when her son ate all his peas and rice -- she wondered if you should reward picky eaters when they finally eat what you serve them. Here's how moms of older babies and toddlers answered her:

LadyChamp didn't reward her son, but turned eating into a contest. When he would finally finish something, to her shock, she dared him to do it again until he did.

kaycee14 doesn't reward. "The few times I have praised my daughter for eating something, she has immediately told me it was yucky and refused any more. This includes chocolate pudding!"

mama_moonsong offers "incentives" rather than rewards. " 'If you eat all your chicken and corn, you can have a Popsicle.' She appreciates the snack and knows she got it for eating well, but she also knows not to expect a treat every time. Not to mention, if she doesn't finish up her dinner, she doesn't get the reward ... that makes her want to try harder next time."

An anonymous mom says, "If it was a battle getting him to eat his food, even a few bites, consider a non-food reward like 15 minutes of a favorite TV show or something. But if he polished his plate off without a protest, I'd give him verbal positive reinforcement."


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Do you reward your baby or toddler for eating once-snubbed foods or finishing his dinner? Do you clap? Squeal with delight? React in other ways that might be considered a reward?

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