Well, I’ll just say it: I have picky eaters X2 in my house right now. It hasn’t always been that way. The boys used to love everything! They mostly just ate veggies (of every kind except eggplant: they didn’t like that) whether it was in puree or finger food form. I really prided myself as a mama on having big, healthy eaters. As they got older, they got more picky. I was back to work and busy, and so I got more lenient about what they ate. Not that they ate unhealthy, but since they were being cared for from different people, I let them eat whatever was offered to them. And I am not saying that’s a bad thing … it’s just that things changed because of our lifestyle. And that’s okay! But eating at home, became (and still is sometimes) a struggle.
Below I’ve listed some things that work for us to get our kids to eat!
VARIETY: I used to get so stressed when the boys wouldn’t eat the meal that I provided for them. Then I realized that maybe I needed to switch things up so that they would respond better to meals. I started offering meals as more Bento Box style or a little of this, a little of that. I gave them LOTS of variety. Then, I realized I didn’t stress as much. There was always something on their plate that I knew they would like and eat.
MAKE IT FUN: Sometimes if meals are moving slowly, or I can sense some resistance, I make up a simple, silly game to play. We play a lot of guessing games where the boys close their eyes and try to guess what they ate while they chew (and hopefully swallow!) it. Or, they choose something and we have to guess what they ate.
MAKE IT SILLY: We let the kids use “adult” utensils so they feel like Big Kids and they respond well to this. We have also fed them using chopsticks or silly things like spatulas or scoops. They also have kid-friendly construction themed utensils that they like too. We switch it up from time to time to keep things interesting.
GET CREATIVE: I recently bought this set of veggie and fruit cutters from Amazon and the boys love them! Especially with cucumbers where I keep them like a puzzle. The boys request the shapes they like or I surprise them.
MAKE IT YUMMY/HIDE IT: I often hide veggies and fruits in things like smoothies, muffins, popsicles, and yogurt. Or I make a sauce for veggies or rice, usually with a peanut butter base for good protein and fats. Lately, my kids are on a smoothie kick… so every morning for breakfast I make a smoothie that always contains a fruit, a vegetable, fats and proteins (hemp hearts, canned coconut milk, chia seeds, avocado), and a plant milk. I often make ice cubes out of my plant milk so that it’s easy and ready to go! The kids gulp those smoothies down so quickly, and then I am assured that they’ve started the day off with some healthy foods. Also, they LOVE Blippi lately on Youtube, and in one episode, Blippi made a smoothie… so every smoothie I make, I called it a “Special Blippi Smoothie”… and the boys just love that! ;)
CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT: I find that my kids eat better when they aren’t sitting in the same spot every dang day. They eat way better at my parents’ or Tim’s parents’ house, or if we are at a restaurant. I think it’s more exciting for them and they are more willing to eat new things. Sometimes we’ll have a picnic in the kitchen or outside or eat downstairs. They love to sit on blankets or at their picnic table. It makes meal times different and exciting. Sometimes they’ll even stand at the coffee table. It’s whatever works, around here! haha
MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!: Tim and I find that if we are eating our meal, the kids will be more into trying new foods because they can have a bite of mom and dad’s. A bite isn’t overwhelming and daunting like a big plate of new foods in front of them. Last night, Jude practically ate half of Tim and my “Savoury Pancakes” off of our plates, but if I’d just put it down in front of him, he would’ve been a bit more hesitant. Modeling good eating habits is much more effective than just telling your kids to eat their meal in front of them because “it’s good for you”.
At the end of the day, I have two healthy boys who are thriving. Overall, they eat a variety of foods in a balanced diet. Yes, they can be picky sometimes, but it just forces us to get creative! I try not to stress too much about it. My doctor always said to look at their eating over a week, not each day. So if within a week, they’ve eaten a variety of healthy foods, then it’s all good! Also, kids will eat when they are truly hungry.
What have you tried that works for your picky eaters? Please let me know in the comments below! I could sure use some more tips and tricks.
MRS. + MAMA