The picky eater population among kids with special needs is large because many kids have sensory issues. Lynne Jackson shares 7 tips to encourage picky eaters.

The picky eater population among kids with special needs is a large one, and for good reason. Many children with special needs have sensory processing issues associated with their diagnoses. Some of those issues include sensitivity to the texture, taste, and temperature of foods.

Picky Eater Advice from Lynn Jackson

Lynn Jackson of addressed this issue in a blog post at her website. She offers several insights concerning picky eaters, including these two tidbits:

  • Research shows that attempts to make children eat certain foods are more harmful than helpful.
  • Many parents view picky eating as defiance or manipulation and respond by attempting to gain control. However, parents will be more successful if they “create an emotionally safe and fun environment in which kids can learn about and explore their food options – without pressure to eat!”

7 Practical Tips to Encourage Picky Eaters

Jackson goes on to offer these 7 tips for encouraging picky eaters:

  1. Keep it light–Have fun at meals.
  2. Help children explore and learn about a variety of food, with no expectation to eat it–Talk to younger children about the color, shape, or smell of foods.
  3. Use positive language–State rules with positive language and replace commands with “you can” statements.
  4. Serve a “safe food” at every meal–Serving at least 1 food your child likes reduces power struggles.
  5. Teach kids to have an “exit strategy”–Teach them how to discretely spit something they don’t like into a napkin.
  6. Remember the “10 Times Rule.”–It takes 10 tastings for children to decide whether or not they really like or dislike a new food.
  7. Gently affirm samplings of new food–Pressuring, manipulating, rewarding, or excessively praising children for eating something implies they wouldn’t naturally want to eat it.


More examples and explanations for these tips can be found at 7 Practical Tips for Picky Eaters. If you’re struggling to get a child to eat at your house, you’ll want to read the whole thing!

Your Picky Eater Tips?

Have you discovered ways to get your picky eater to try new foods? Please, share your strategy in the comment box so we can learn from you an celebrate with you. Thanks!

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