Does your toddler suddenly seem to hate all the food she once loved? Are you struggling with mealtime tantrums and food being thrown off the tray? Here are 7 quick tips to expand your picky eater’s palate.
Motherhood is already full of endless obstacles, so the last thing you need is a toddler screaming their little head off simply because they have a few veggies in front of them. But how can you get nutritious foods into your toddler and make mealtime a fun zone again….not a war zone?
7 Quick Tips to Expand Your Picky Eater’s Palate
Here are 7 tips you can try to end the mealtime battles and get your picky eater to eat again.
1. Don’t Cater to Them
This is probably the best advice I received when I was struggling with my picky eater. Once you start catering to your picky eater, it only gets worse. Toddlers may be tiny, but they sure are smart. It won’t take your toddler long to realize that if she doesn’t eat the chicken and broccoli, then someone will make her a grilled cheese. Mealtime then becomes a never ending battle. Don’t make yourself a short-order-cook. Otherwise, you may find yourself cooking four different meals at dinner time.
2. Don’t Force it
Never force your child to eat. They will eat when they are hungry, even if you have to warm up their dinner late at night. I promise you they won’t starve themselves. Forcing food will only create more stress and tears…for your child and yourself.
3. Keep Offering
Just keep offering food, without forcing it. Eventually, it will catch on. It may be the 2nd or 3rd time, or it may take until the 12th or 13th time for your picky eater to accept a new food. Patience is key.
You can also try offering food in different ways. For example, if you are struggling to get your child to eat chicken, you can try offering them baked chicken, grilled chicken, try different spices, offer white and dark meat, or offer them dipping sauces.
4. Make it Fun
Mickey Mouse and smiley face pancakes are a classic, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes with a variety of foods. Offer bright, colorful foods to make it more intriguing. Dunking sauces are always a blast. Have yogurt or peanut butter for dunking fruit and marinara or hummus for veggies. Always offer a new food with a food that you know they love.
Let your toddler try to feed herself. It may get messy, but that’s part of the fun. Give the option of using fun toddler spoons and other utensils that are colorful and have neat designs on them. Make sure they are easy to use, to prevent frustration.
5. Don’t Ditch the High Chair
Letting your toddler eat at a kids table may cause too much distraction with their tiny attention span. You might find yourself chasing your toddler everywhere and fighting with them to sit down the entire meal. Keep your child in a high chair or booster with a strap until they’re 2.5 or 3 if you can. You may need to find a high chair that offers more legroom and a foot rest for your toddler so that they can eat comfortably. If they are fighting the high chair, try removing the tray and pull them up to the table so they can eat “just like mom and dad.”
6. Get Them Involved
If your toddler is involved in the mealtime process, she will be more inclined to try the new foods that she helped prepare. Let your toddler help you pick out produce at the grocery store, let her help you stir the sauce or set the table, and let her pick out the utensils she wants to use.
7. Set an Example
If you sort and pick through your food and never try anything new, your child will quickly catch on and follow by example. Show your toddler how fun and delicious meals can be by sitting down as a family, eating the same thing, and trying new foods together.
It can be tricky to get your toddler to try new foods, but meal-time doesn’t need to be a battle. With these 7 tips, you’re “picky eater” will soon be a “good eater.” You’ll be able to get healthy foods into your toddler without all the fuss, and you may even be able to enjoy eating out again.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a coffee addict, and a mommy blogger. You can find her trying to pin the entire internet on Pinterest, or sharing her journey through motherhood, and giving little tips and tricks to become a more well-rounded parent on her blog MomLovesBest.com