Do Divided Plates Make Children Picky Eaters?

To divide or not to divide, that is the question – at least when it comes to plates.

But the truth is, there’s no clear cut “right or wrong” here.

You might have heard that divided plates can “cause picky eating” but this ALONE isn’t true

Just the plate itself won’t make your child picky. Picky eating has so many layers and can be really dynamic & individualized.

Read more about Picky Eating vs. Problem Feeding here.

In both my professional and personal opinion, both plates have their place at meals & both have some pros & cons.

For example, divided plates make “scoopable” foods (like apple sauce, rice, pasta, etc) easier to scoop because everything is more contained. Which can make them a great option for some meals!

Personally, I found the divided plates helped my over-worked brain “visualize” balance and what to look for what creating meals.

However, undivided plates are what will be more common outside the home & will look more like what we eat on as adults- which is the goal! Making these a really great option too. 

Undivided plates will also allow foods to touch which can be a bonus as children learn to accept “layered” and “mixed” dishes. 

See the full post on Instagram

In short, the plate you use by itself won’t be a reason your child is or stays “picky”. But just like we aim for variety with foods, we should also try to change it up and move them more towards undivided plates since these will be more common as adults.

But don’t let anyone try to tell you “serving them a divided plate will keep them picky” because there was actually a study done a few years ago that found divided plates actually lead to INCREASED fruit & veggie consumption in preschoolers- which is pretty cool! (1)

In our house, we use undivided, divided, bowls, muffin tins, ice cube trays, and all kinds of things to serve foods! And I’ll say, changing it up might just surprise you on how they respond and what they eat.

References:

  1. Emily M. Melnick, M. P. H. (2018, October 1). Association of plate design with consumption of fruits and vegetables among preschool children. JAMA Pediatrics. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2694796

Published by snackswithjax

Sarah is the creator and mom behind "Snacks with Jax", a social media community of over 85,000 parents/caregivers, where she shares her son's meals, nutrition information, and evidence-based tips for feeding children. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition emphasizing in Wellness from Texas Woman's University and years of experience as a culinary instructor working with ages 2+. She has coached hundreds of parents & caregivers through the journey introducing solids to babies and also navigating picky eating with toddlers and older children. Her focus is on establishing a life-long healthy relationship with food for children while also empowering, encouraging, and educating their adult caregivers.

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