Is Your Child A Picky Eater?

They can be the terrors of the table -- 2-, 3- and 4-year olds who won't eat what you put in front of them. You hear all sorts of reasons. They're not hungry, the food's the wrong color, or it's just plain "yucky."

What's Josh Isley's idea of dinner? "Do you have chocolate," he asks. "No I don't have chocolate, not for dinner," says his mom, Kim.

It's dinnertime. And according to Kim, the menu is: "Ham steaks, and we're gonna have broccoli. Yum," she says.

Josh sticks out his tongue.

Josh is a world champion picky eater. Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist Barbara Ann Hughes, Ph.D., says the three meals a day schedule doesn't always work for kids.

"They'd like to have food available all during the day," Hughes tells Ivanhoe.

Kim lets Josh eat before the rest of the family because that's when he's hungry. Trick number two: combine what they hate with what they like.

"If I can cover it with cheese usually it will go down one way or another," says Kim.

Remember that broccoli Josh hates? With cheese, his reaction is, "Yum!" But the next challenge is the mashed potatoes.

Josh decides to set those aside.

Hughes says, "Ignore it. Just leave it alone. They'll come back when they're ready. When they're hungry, they will eat."

Experts say there are two don'ts. Don't offer sweets as a reward. And don't say, "You're not leaving until that plate's clean."

Kim says, "Oh, you can try that if you want to stay there till midnight. That's for people with a lot of free time on their hands."

By the end of this meal, the potatoes were losers but otherwise, mom won this round and her picky eater is glad about it.

Hughes has a couple more ideas: Try keeping nutritious finger food around so the child does some healthy grazing all day long, and you might find colorful foods score better with a youngster than those in tones of gray and brown.