Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one
If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration or become less sensitive to his or her own hunger and fullness cues.
Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.
Stick to the routine
Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. If you child chooses not to eat a meal, a regular snack time will offer an opportunity to eat nutritious food. You can provide milk or 100 percent juice with the food, but offer water between meals and snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice, milk or snacks throughout the day might decrease his or her appetite for meals.
Be patient with new foods
Young children often touch or smell new foods, and might even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite.
Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.