Tyler Florence’s Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters

05/04/2012 at 09:00 AM ET
Michael Stewart/WireImage

As a chef and father-of-three, Tyler Florence knows firsthand that avoiding picky eating habits means starting early.

“If you’re not introduced to a food by the time you’re 3-years-old, you’re literally afraid of it as if it will hurt you,” he tells PEOPLE.

“The best thing you can possibly do is when they’re like 6-months of age, 8-months of age, go for the healthiest, most nutrition-dense, flavorful product you possibly can.”

To that end, Florence created Sprout baby food, a line of organic meals for your little one, that was inspired by an experience he had during a photo shoot taking place at his apartment.

“One of our friends had brought her toddler son over and she was feeding him baby food and he just absolutely hated it,” he says. “So I just grabbed a couple of carrots out of my fridge, I steamed them and pureed them and I gave it to him and he licked the bowl clean. A friend of mine, who turned out to be my cofounder, he and I looked at each other and thought, ‘This is a really good idea.'”

Four years later, Sprout came to fruition, though only after passing the taste test of his own children, 15-year-old Miles, 4-year-old Hayden and 3-year-old Dorothy.

“All of our Sprout recipes are tested on my own children,” he says. “If you taste apple, mango and carrot pureed together, it’s a sensational flavor combination that babies won’t forget, and moms love it too.”

Simple preparatory tricks have also made the difference between convincing his kids to try new foods and losing their interest.

“There’s not a vegetable that my children won’t eat if it’s roasted,” says Florence, who also works with Alexia Foods. “Take vegetables, cut them into small pieces, add extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Now you’ve got a vegetable that your children are absolutely going to love.”

Kiran Hefa

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Showing 4 comments

Jacqui on

Great tips! I also love Tyler’s store in Napa. Saw him at SFO recently; super nice guy.

Cooper on

That is the worst picture of him I have ever seen.

Shannon on

“If you’re not introduced to a food by the time you’re 3-years-old, you’re literally afraid of it as if it will hurt you,”

SO true! 🙂

Marky on

Love his recipes! His food is always very “do-able” and yummy. I’m sure this line will be great! My kids were on table food by 12 months, introduced to a new food each week, and they would eat anything we ate. None of my kids turned away from trying new things, but we all ate together at the table and they saw us enjoying the food, so they expected to enjoy it. I also didn’t prepare 6 different meals, in case Susie didn’t like what we were having, LOL, so they probably figured they should try it so they wouldn’t starve! Surprise! They liked it.