Picky Baby? It’s Normal.

picky baby eating figs

My baby has always loved yams, broccoli, and pears, but since she has turned 12 months, she is protesting.  Despite multiple attempts to serve her these foods hidden, mixed, and chopped to crumb size for camouflaging purposes, she will still pick each undesired food particle out and one by one drop it on the floor.  I feel like a professional crumb snatcher when I am picking up all these carefully chopped pieces from the floor.

Although I hate to see organic, homemade food intentionally thrown on the floor, this is completely normal 12 month old behavior.  It is part of her food exploration experience.  She’s learning about healthy food just by trying a few pieces, spitting them out, and playing the gravity game.  Sometimes her fingers are the only way she will taste a food.  The pickiness comes with the sprouting toddler package, but it doesn’t mean she will always hate yams, broccoli, and pears.

My mom job is to keep offering her other healthy foods, until I find something she likes.  This is your job, too, if your 12-18 month old baby has started her food finicky phase.  If she rejects the plums, try some fresh figs!  If she won’t even taste the avocado, give her cooked navy beans.  If she throws all her yams, then offer her some (soft) roasted turnips.

Get crafty and think about different flavors, textures, colors, and shapes.  If she won’t eat the plain roasted turnips, then sprinkle them with metro curry seasoning.  If she hates boiled and mashed carrots, try grating them raw.  If she won’t eat the red tomatoes, try the yellow ones.  If she dislikes the pears, sprinkle them with nutmeg and iron chef them into paper thin slices that can be lovingly held.  The 12-18 month age range loves holding a (safe) piece of something to bite multiple times! Approaching your baby’s food prep with this type of mindset will nurture her healthy palette as well as her growing little body.

picky baby grated carrots

This isn’t something you can force on her, and it’s not a good idea to muscle food through her closed lips.  Put new foods within her reach, age and allergy appropriate, and let her decide if she’s going to eat it or not.  It might get messy.  Letting her learn and feel and smell and taste healthy food is worth any mess because you’re setting her up to LOVE the healthy stuff.

If your baby protests a healthy food today, try it again next month.  Just as her body and brain are rapidly developing, so is her taste.  She may not like it today, but she may love it in a month or two.

Don’t give her the hot dogs and pasta because “she won’t eat anything else”.  Be imaginative!  Keep reminding yourself that you are developing her palette by letting her feel that organic slimy pink and brown Californian fig, even though she’s just touching it to throw it on the floor.

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6 Responses

  1. Ebun

    I like this post alot! What would you do with a two and half year old who is picky? He has always been picky and it’s hard to feed him if it’s not butter noodles, nuggets, or cereal. I told his parents to try a multivitamin to ensure he is getting his vitamins. What would you suggest.


    Dr. Archer

    Hi Ebun — I think it’s kind of a sticky situation if you’re not the parent. It’s hard to change eating habits if you’re not the one in charge…


  2. Erika

    Great advice Archer! It’s so important to develop good taste buds early – and to not get in the habit of feeding kids “beige” foods.


    Dr. Archer

    Thanks, sweet Erika! I like how you described that… “beige” foods.


  3. Emily

    Great article, I keep having to remind myself to do that with my 5 and 7 year olds. Sometimes I am surprised at what they will eat when I ask them to try it.


    Dr. Archer

    Thanks, Emily! I’m sure I’ll need reminded to keep introducing new foods to my kids when they are 5 & 7!


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