Parenthood comes with many triumphs: first smile, first word, success with potty training… eating foods without being picky. But wait – does that happen? For many parents, having a picky eater is all too common, and it can be frustrating. These three steps will hopefully change your routine enough to get your child eating healthier without the typical toddler complaints.
1. Let Them Help You
I know you’re probably thinking, “But I can get this done so much faster without their help!” Yes, you probably can. But try this out and see if it works:
Look through cookbooks together! Sitting on the kitchen floor or at the table with your little one can be a fun experience as you flip through the pages of your favorite cookbook. Let them decide what “looks” good, and maybe it will jog their memory once dinnertime rolls around.
Go grocery shopping with them! Walking the aisles of the grocery store is a great learning experience for a child. They can see all the different colors and options available. Point out what’s healthy and tell them why fruits are a better option than potato chips.
Let them set the table! Giving your toddler the opportunity to set the table is a nice way to help them feel involved. If they feel like they’ve helped out, that might mean they’re more invested in dinnertime and will want to eat what’s being served. Be proud of them – even if the forks are upside down – and say “thank you!”
2. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to most things in life. Children run on a routine, and if that routine is shaken, they go a little crazy. This can be the same with mealtime. Be consistent and serve your picky eater the same food every night for one week. This will give them the chance to warm up to the food and get used to seeing it on their plate. You can mix up the side dishes if you’d like, but make the main food you want them to try the staple of every dinner that week.
3. Make It Fun
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun” – at least that’s what Mary Poppins says. No, don’t have a food fight at the table. Instead, find fun ways to serve meals to your children. Miniature helpings, decorative toothpicks, muffin tin snacks, and crazy-fun cutout sandwiches are all the rage to picky eaters. Let them enjoy food while they’re learning about what they do and don’t like.
Amanda Daily is a freelance writer and mother