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Unlocking the Joy of Mealtimes: Tips for Creating Positive Mealtime Environments for Picky Eaters

Hello caregivers!

If you have a picky eater at home, you know how challenging mealtimes can be. But fear not! In this blog post, we'll share some valuable tips for creating a positive mealtime environment that will help transform picky eating battles into enjoyable experiences. Let's dive in and re-discover the joy of mealtimes!

1. Establish a Relaxed Atmosphere:

Creating a calm and positive mealtime environment is crucial. Minimize distractions such as screens, toys, or excessive noise. Set a pleasant tone by engaging in cheerful conversation about the foods in front of you. Describe what the food looks like, what it smells like, how it feels, etc. This sets the stage for a focused and enjoyable eating experience.

2. Embrace Routine and Consistency:

Children thrive on routine. Establish regular meal and snack times to help your child anticipate meals and build a sense of structure. Consistency in mealtime routines can reduce anxiety and create a sense of security around food. Aim for a predictable schedule and involve your child in setting the table or preparing simple tasks, fostering their engagement and ownership of mealtimes.

3. Encourage Family Meals:

Eating together as a family has numerous benefits. It provides an opportunity to model healthy eating habits, promote social interaction, and create a supportive atmosphere. Aim for regular family meals where everyone sits down together to enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal. This shared experience can encourage your picky eater to try new foods and expand their palate.

4. Focus on Positive Reinforcement:

Praise and positive reinforcement can work wonders in creating a positive mealtime environment. Acknowledge your child's efforts and progress, even if they only take small steps towards trying new food. Sometimes even as small as accepting the food on their plate is a huge step for some. Celebrate their successes and offer genuine words of encouragement. This positive approach reinforces their confidence and willingness to explore new flavors and textures.

5. Engage in Food Exploration and Play:

Incorporating playfulness into mealtimes can make a world of difference for picky eaters. Introduce interactive activities such as food art, themed meals, or food-based sensory bins. Encourage your child to explore new foods through touch, smell, and taste.


Creating a positive mealtime environment is the key to transforming picky eating battles into enjoyable experiences. By following these tips, you can lay the foundation for a harmonious and adventurous approach to food.

Remember to download our free Mealtime Success Guide to access a wealth of resources that will support you on this journey.

Looking for even more support?

Check out our online parent education course! In less than two hours you will get concrete, and actionable steps to making mealtime easier.

Let's make mealtimes a time of joy, connection, and exploration for your picky eater. Embrace the tips shared in this blog post and equip yourself with our Mealtime Success Guide to unlock the full potential of your child's eating habits.

Thank you for joining us, and we look forward to seeing you and your little one thrive at mealtimes!

Samantha Stern, MS, OTR/L

CEO & Occupational Therapist

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