Remember the suspense as we wondered whether little Billy was going to like his food? For many parents, mealtime angst is a daily occurrence. Now scientists are taking on the age-old question of what makes kids such picky eaters. It turns out there are four kinds of overly discerning tots: sensory-dependent (they freak out over weird textures or smells), preferential (they like only what’s familiar), behavioral (they care about how the food was prepared) and perfectionists (they will not tolerate a messy plate).

The point behind these categories is, once you know what kind of culinary tyrant you’re dealing with, you can arm yourself with a targeted solution. If someone were to offer you a plate of food you had never eaten before, wouldn’t you likely taste it to see if you like it before deciding to eat the rest? One difference between adults and children though is that it takes time for children to accept a new food. So, we suggest you offer your child a taste of something first, before you offer them the entire plate.

Have you dealt with—and hopefully conquered—a picky eater? What are your most successful tips and tricks? 

New York Magazine: