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One-Bite Rule for Kids

Get Your Picky Eater to Eat!


A picture of a boy making a face

A picky eater lets you know how he feels.

Photo © Apryl Duncan
Has a picky eater moved in and taken the place of the little kid who used to eat everything? The one-bite rule can stop the food fights at mealtime.

The Rule of the One-Bite Rule

The one-bite rule's premise is simple: Your kids must take at least one bite of everything on the plate.

They don't have to like it. They don't have to eat more if they don't want. They simply have to take one bite of each food.

What's In It for You?

You've got enough parenting battles to fight and getting your hungry kids to eat shouldn't have to be one of them. The one-bite rule eliminates the mealtime struggles.

It's not a quick fix like hiding food in your picky eater's favorites. It will take your child some time to get used to what you expect out of this new rule and that he can't buck the system to get his way. In other words, no more of you preparing a second or third meal for his approval just to get him to eat!

Prepare Your Kids for the New Rule

Talk to your child about the one-bite rule before he sees the plate. Long before you even cook the day's meal is the ideal time. Then you can remind him of the new rule throughout the day, leading up to the big moment when he's introduced to the one-bite rule at the table.

With the plate in front of him, explain again that he'll take one bite of each one of the foods on his plate. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to have any more of that food right now. He simply has to sample the food on his plate.

Respect His Palate

Kids are naturally picky eaters. First of all, a child's tastes are completely different than ours. What may be bland to us is delicious to them.

Stick to the basics of the one-bite rule. If your child doesn't like something, don't try to force more than one bite.

For example, you finally get him to try a bite of spinach but he clearly doesn't like it. Respect his palate. Don't make a big deal out of it. Move on and make note that you don't want to serve him spinach every night.

When was the last time you ate your brussel spouts? You have your favorites and foods you won't touch. He doesn't have to like every bit of food that he tastes either.

It's Working! Now What?

Keep going! He's undoubtedly discovering some of those foods he turned his nose up are actually yummy.

With those foods he likes now, ask him to take a second bite. See if it leads to a third.

Add that food to his list of likes. Serve it up alongside something new or something he doesn't like. He can have that one bite of the corn that's now his favorite food and try one bite of those green beans he's currently frowning at.

It's Not Working! Now What?

The one-bite rule doesn't come with a guarantee. If you're sitting at the table for two hours and your child's jaw is clamped shut without having taken a single bite of anything on his plate, the one-bite rule may not be the best strategy for you.

It's not about forcing a disciplinary issue. "Do what I say!" Sometimes it's simply a matter of your child's personality. You may need a different approach to get through this phase.

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