Tips to get your picky eater to try new things

By  | 

NEW YORK (CBS) For mom Leslie Jones, getting her sons to eat a variety of foods has been a challenge.

"The biggest struggle is getting their fruits and vegetables in," she said.

Keegan and Davin are what she calls "selective" eaters.

"We've had a lot of struggles," she said. "It's been a constant effort to get them to try new things."

Dr. Tina Maddox of UAMS Dietetics said the same struggle is real for many parents.

"All kids go through periods of time where they only want a certain food to eat and that's really very normal. If it's something that goes on long-term, that's something we would be concerned about in terms of nutrient deficiency," Maddox said.

With school starting back up, that can cause problems for kids in the classroom.

"That can look like behavior problems sometimes because they are more fidgety in their seats, they don't perform as well on their homework assignments or exams," Maddox said.

But she says there are some ways families can make positive changes. One way parents can help get kids to try new things is by making them part of the grocery shopping process. That way when they go to the fridge, they will be more likely to choose something they got at the grocery store.

"Might be fun for kids each week to pick out what fruit and vegetable they want for that week," Maddox said.

Also, go big or go home isn't the best mantra for getting kids to try something new.

"Don't overwhelm your child with a plate of all new foods," Maddox advised. "Gradually start adding food one at a time."

It's that patient process that has helped the Jones family. The boys found when they tried something, they liked it. And sometimes, the promise of a little dessert can help.

"I've always known that's not the way to entice kids to get them to eat, but, you know, sometimes it's whatever works," Jones said.