Expert Advice – Tips For Your Picky Eater!

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I am thrilled to pieces to introduce fabulous local pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Stahl of Mia Bella Pediatrics, who has been so kind as to offer to write Expert Advice blogs for Tiny Oranges readers!  This topic hits close to home at our house, I am sure there are lots of you out there dealing with your own picky eaters.  She offers some fantastic tips and ideas…  

Tips for Your Picky Eater

By Jennifer Stahl, MD, FAAP, co-owner of Mia Bella Pediatrics in Mission Viejo

As a pediatrician, a major goal of mine is to start my little patients on the road to healthy eating habits. This is often harder said than done since children naturally tend to mistrust anything new or green. Parents need to remember to be calm and patient during mealtimes and to remember the following tips:

Respect your child’s hunger cues. A child should be allowed to eat when hungry and stop when full. Battle’s at the table will only start a power struggle and parents rarely win when that occurs.

Minimize snacking, especially with juice and starchy/sugary snacks like crackers, cookies and “fruit snacks”. If your child is hungry between meals, be sure to offer them healthy snacks like the ones I have listed below.

Don’t give up on trying new foods. Children take over a dozen exposures sometimes to accept a new food. The worst thing a parent can do is allow a child to fill up on their beloved chicken nuggets or cheese pizza on a daily basis because then they will have little motivation to try anything new.

Get your child involved. Kids love to be helpers and there are lots of fun recipe books for kids to get them involved. If you allow your child to have some control in the process of selecting and cooking meals, they will be far less likely to give you a fight at the meal table.

Healthy snacks:

1. Apple and string cheese or peanut/almond butter
2. High fiber granola bar
3. Carrots/broccoli/zucchini with hummus or bean dip
4. Fruit smoothie, freeze the leftovers and make a great popsicle for the next day.
5. Mixed nuts (if over 3)
6. Plain yogurt with fruit 

Do you have a topic or a question you would like Dr. Jennifer to answer?  Post a comment here or email me at  


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  1. 1
    siennamommy says:

    always interested in hearing about sleep tips…infant and toddler.

  2. 2
    Noelle says:

    Another little trick I use is that I give my daughter (19 months) the veggies first, when she is most hungry. Being hungry seems to trump the green factor and I’ve gotten her to like lots of different veggies this way. I usually let her "snack" on those in the kitchen while I finish cooking, then we sit down for the rest of the meal. The best part is that she really thinks she’s getting a special treat!

  3. 3
    Jen Stahl, MD says:

    Noelle’s comment is right on! I call it "eating in courses", always starting with the foods they like the least and finishing with their favorite (usually fruit).
    For Sienna: I’ll start working on a sleep piece ASAP!

  4. 4
    Jen says:

    Love the idea about freezing the left over smoothies! I have been freezing those yogurt tubes, and she loves them. Feels like a special treat, and it is a healthier snack option. I will do this for the smoothies too!

  5. 5
    Anderson C. says:

    First of all, I like your blog design. I was caught by it. Maybe it has something to do with the color or images or maybe overall. Anyway, with lots of ‘junkfoods’ coming out, parents should be aware what they’re children are eating. Parents should train there children in eating the right kind of food even in a young age. Those mentioned above are some ways in providing the right and nutritious foods. Those are really great tips! Thank you so much for sharing.

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