As a parent of three, I think I’m allowed to say that I have dealt with and am quite familiar with varying levels of pickiness in children.
Now, Daisy, the oldest at 4 years of age, is quite the picky eater. According to her mindset, if she doesn’t see something she likes, she might as well not waste her playtime eating at all.
The second youngest, Poca (2 years old), is almost the COMPLETE opposite. If it’s food she’ll eat it and she’ll try anything new. She loves varying her palette and surprisingly isn’t put off by veggies in the slightest.
The youngest, Sebastien, who is 12 months of age, picks in moderation I would say. Not too picky, not very open with some food dislikes. Well… What would you expect from an infant?
ALL this being said, hopefully, this can provide some proof that I’ve picked up some useful tips along the way when it comes to picky eaters and dinner time.
Here, I’m going to share 7 tricks to feed picky eaters with ya’ll (thank me later).
How to Feed Fussy Babies and Toddlers
1 ♥ Mix Their Dislikes with Their Loves
Does your child hate his/her veggies to the extreme but love other baked goods like muffins, pie, lasagna, and pasta…?
Use this to your advantage!
Swap out some of the unhealthy ingredients (sugar, butter, bacon…) for veggies, fruits (maybe as a replacement for sugar), avocado, and legumes even!
My three kids (especially Daisy) put the knowledge I gathered from books and blogs into practice, hence, why I am even writing this blog post today.
Get creative in the kitchen. Try making a fruit-sweetened carrot muffin or zucchini brownies.
Don’t want desserts? Try incorporating veggies into main dishes like lasagna, the pasta sauce, veg meatballs…
If you’ve got a computer and a kitchen with ingredients, you can figure out a lot of interestingly good-for-you recipes (that taste good!) and hide what the picky eaters despise.
2 ♥ Prep Healthy Finger Food
Get rid of all the junk food in the house and start prepping some veggies for the kids!They’ll probably resist at first, but with nothing else in the pantry to snack on and a mouth craving a good munch, they’ll cave in eventually.
Convenience is a great driving factor and has a great influence on the final choice of food that enters his/her stomach. Feed your baby some fruit with the help of a cute NatureBond Fruit Feeder Pacifier (love their products!).
3 ♥ Encourage Intuitive Eating
Kids know when they’re full. They have the innate quality of being more in tune with their hunger signals than adults; as they have yet to be affected by society.
Kids who grow up forced to eat beyond their capabilities )ever screamed “FINISH YOUR PLATE MISTER” with a reply like
“But I’m full mom!”? Yea? (Might want to stop that) are at much higher risk of venturing into the overweight zone that comes with a variety of health problems.
Besides, when you’re being forced to eat something you don’t like despite being already uncomfortable, just think of how much more will you grow to hate it.
Not a good solution when it comes to fussy eaters. Plate not finished? Put it in the fridge and leave it there in case she/he wants to come back for more. If not, bin it and place a smaller portion (similar to the amount eaten) in front of the kid next time to avoid waste.
I highly recommend reading The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. It’ll teach you a lot about how to encourage positivity when it comes to diet, to instill a good mindset in your kids from a young age. Also, for a blog that was started for the purpose of dealing with picky eaters early and to get kids to eat normally, for everything you need to know about getting your children to just take a bite, read it all here!
4 ♥ Get the Mini-Chefs Working
Get your tiny monsters working in the kitchen to lend a helping hand with dinner preparations. Not only will this help the family bond better, the little munchkins will feel more enthused to eat something they made due to a sense of ownership.
It’s like when you write a test. You feel like all the answers you wrote were of good quality and deserving of a decent grade. However, when you got your test back, turns out that wasn’t the reality of it.
Even if the picky munchkins don’t like a certain veggie, when it’s added into their own creation they will subconsciously think of it in a better light (even if the quality isn’t as great as it is in their heads).
Try making some cute recipes and desserts together like the ones in posted in LittleOfBrittmar, while using tip 1 to swap out some ingredients for healthy veggies.
5 ♥ Bribery
I think this is one of the most effective tips. Performing a trade (or simple bribery) with the little angels (or devils).
If they eat their beans provide them with extra playtime or go outside to the park together after dinner. If they eat their veggies for a week without complaining, you’ll go to a water-park with them or give them $5.
Again, this does not mean they have to finish their plate. Just make sure they get a decent sized portion of it in their bellies before the rest of the food is consumed.
6 ♥ Find Alternatives
Sometimes, no matter how much you try, certain foods just won’t work. Perhaps it causes a gag reflux in the child;
Perhaps they seriously can’t handle the texture…
You just need to accept it if you’ve tried all you can with the ingredient already.
I personally cannot stand mushrooms, regardless of what food it’s put in, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Sure mushrooms are healthy but there are plenty of other food alternatives that possess the same amount of nutrition/vitamins/minerals.
If it’s not something necessary for survival or the elimination of an entire food group, it’s totally possible to work around it.
If I was caught up over a problem and continued doing the same things over and over again, I would have never beat infertility. Instead, I took action to find ways around the problem and other solutions by looking at different maternity books, helpful doctors, and moms with blogs like TheScenicRouteByJen who’ve fought the same battle before.
Remember; keep your kids healthy AND happy.
7 ♥ Lead by Example!
Common! Don’t expect a toddler to eat his/her spinach if you won’t do the same!
“Monkey see, Monkey do” as the saying goes. Be a leader and check yourself before you wreck yourself! (I always wanted to say that…).
Let kids be kids as long as they live healthily and happily! If the tips stated above are applied to your everyday life at home, I am confident you’ll manage to work it out with your lovely children at dinner time. Remember, food is there to act as nourishment, not a punishment!
For more parenting advice, check out MoreWithFour which is run by, Naomi, who shares her experiences/tips/advice when it comes to dealing with four different kids. Her advice has greatly helped me with the crazy three to the test every day. You can read more in her parenting section here.