Win the Battle with Picky Eaters: The “No Thank You Bite”

picky eaterI think I’ve finally turned the corner in the battle of The Pickiest Children on Earth. I probably shouldn’t write about it, in case I jinx it, but I’m too proud to not share with the world!

My boys have always been picky. One more than the other two in particular. The kid weighs about five pounds less than his brothers, and you can see it in his ribs and chicken legs (which, incidentally, are two food he won’t eat.) Fortunately, he’s at a healthy weight and height, so I’m lucky not to have to worry that his pickiness is affecting his growth. But it’s so frustrating! He has the same DNA as his brothers, so I can say with confidence that pickiness is not inherited.

But earlier this month, we were at a friend’s house for a playdate. I watched in awe as the mom fed her 5- and 3-year-olds seaweed, salad, and exotically topped pizza. I want my kids to eat like that, I thought. The only pizza my kids will eat is cheese or pepperoni, without sauce. So I asked her for tips. I recognize that her boys didn’t start eating well because of something she did one day, but because that’s the way they were raised. I think for the first few years of the boys’ lives, I was in survival mode, so making sure I introduced different foods wasn’t a top priority. And then it became a habit.

So over time, instead of trying new foods, they refused them in favor of the tried and true. And I didn’t have it in me to fight about it. So chicken nuggets and hot dogs were the default for dinner, and for literally an entire school year, they got Nutella sandwiches. But now that they’re six (and a half, they’re quick to remind me) they’re old enough to bribe reason with.

SAMSUNG CSCWhat my friend does with her boys is the “no thank you bite.” As in, you take a bite, and if you don’t like it, you can say, “no thank you,” but you must take that one bite. If you like more, great! If not, that’s okay! At least you tried it. It helps them understand that they can’t say they don’t like something if they’ve never tried it.

While we were on that playdate, thanks to the “no thank you bite,” my boys tried strawberries, seaweed, tapioca pearls, garlic, and rose petals (!) I won’t say they liked everything, but they tried it.

Of course, when we got home, I was worried they were just trying to impress the other mom, but since that playdate, they’ve eaten plenty of new foods. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pineapple, and peas! Oh, and a Butterfinger. Hey, that’s a new texture of protein packed peanut butter. Sue me.

How do you get your older kids to try new foods?



Pam Kocke
My name is Pam, and I live in Algiers Point with my husband George and my identical triplets Linus, Oliver, and Miles. I work from home as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. I enjoy reading and photography and sewing (and blogging!)


  1. Hey that mom hosting the playdate, is me! I’m famous. I’m so happy it’s working for you Pam 🙂

    Keep me posted on what else they try. Let me know if you want to play again.

    Perfect picture of devan licking every last bit of dressing off the plate.

    When I read the article, we were in Oregon at a winery and the boys were eating Israeli cous cous, roasted veggies and meats. I feel like I’ve just passed on my love of all things food to them but I think the ‘no thank you bite’ has helped us get over that picky hump.

    We also don’t order off of kids menus. That’s the other trick. They eat what we eat. That’s the way it is in every foreign country. It’s just ‘foreign’ for us in America so we need to change the way we think about it.

    Happy exploring.

  2. I usually pair something new with something I know they like. Inevitably, they gobble down what they like and then ask for more. I tell them they can have more of what they like, but they first have to take one bite of whatever else is on their plate. Once they take a bite, they usually discover they like it. If not, I don’t make a big deal about it, and try again another day.

  3. Pickiness may actually be inherited. I doubt all three of your boys are genetically identical and even if they miraculously are, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be inherited. It just means that “nurture” was the cause in your specific situation. Sorry, I really don’t mean to be rude or anything, I just don’t like misinformation or speaking in absolutes.

    • Aw, bless your heart! They are indeed “miraculously” genetically identical, I have the DNA test to prove it. But I’m quite sure nurture does have something to do with their pickiness. Raising triplets is hard enough without making sure they eat everything you put in front of them. Sometimes you give in to their demands, and next thing you know, you’re celebrating the fact that they’re eating a candy bar. I am happy to say now that they are 9 years old they’re eating a lot better.

  4. Hi om Anna a mother of…. picky eaters my two girls have been very, picky eaters since they were one my five-year-old soon to be 6 eats a lot better now than her, four-year-old sister eats is soup and it has to be the ramen noodle one once in a blue still eat the. Lipton chicken noodle she’s eats yogurt every now and then she likes… cheese crackers ham cheats jello cake ice cream she likes candy but other than that everything else. I try to give her she refuses to eat says no I don’t want it it’s yucky I try to tell her at least take one bite how do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try and instead of taking a bite show lick it how can I go about introducing her to new foods without trying to force her because she don’t want to eat it??????

  5. Hi, I’m trying to research the history of “the no thank you bite” specifically the phrase. My wife and I started doing it with our first child back in 1992. We had never heard anyone say it before and I coined the term out of the clear blue. Just be cool to know if my little family started a trend.


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