Does anyone else feel like mealtimes are losing battles at their house? Some days, it requires all my patience, leaving what feels like none for the rest of the day. My one-year-old thinks it’s fun to throw food on the ground, and he literally gags to the point of throwing up if he doesn’t like a food. Yes, gags. MEALTIME IS HARD. There, I said it. Getting your kids to eat, let alone eat nutritiously, is hard work.
But, there are methods. Tried and true methods that have helped many moms, and today I’m here to share some of those methods along with some easy, kid-friendly meal ideas that might even sneak in a few veggies!
They say sometimes kids have to be exposed to new foods 15, 20, or even more times before they start to like it. Kids can be tricky little buggers when it comes to eating. That being said, it's important for your children's digestive health to be eating the right food groups.
So, what’s a mom to do about this? Just as our tastes develop over time, our kids will do the same. But, for many of us, it will take a lot of patience, hard work, and persistence. The following six steps will help you start getting your kids more interested in expanding their palates.All parents want their children to eat a healthy, varied diet, but many children are picky when it comes to food. Here are some ways to expand your kids palates! Click To Tweet
HEALTHY EATING TIPS FOR KIDS
Be a Good Role Model
You are their best example. If you won’t eat it, you better believe they won’t!
How to Get a Child to Eat When They Refuse
If your child won’t eat a particular food, provide another similar option or let them try the food in a different way (such as dipped in a sauce).
When dinner becomes a hostile situation, kids will fight back even more. It’s so hard when all you want them to do is JUST TRY IT, for crying out loud.
Take a few deep breaths, look for opportunities to negotiate, and try tomorrow if they aren’t interested.
If kids get to choose what ingredients to include or what fruit/vegetable they will have that night, they will be more likely to clean their plates.
Let them pick their toppings, their seasonings, their dips, etc.
Plus, make sure you are using the right utensils and tableware for your toddler as they can make a huge difference with the mess as well as make your baby excited to try the food.
Sectioned plates and baby-weaning bowls with sticky bases are a life-saver since they are less likely to be flipped or end up on the floor because they stick to the surface. The cute shapes and designs also bring up more variety and creativity, encouraging your baby to try the new food.
Explaining Healthy Eating to a Child
Teach children what food can do for them. Explain sources of protein and what protein does for our bodies. Teach them in their language.
Strategies to Encourage Healthy Eating
There are lots of ways to sneak in the healthy stuff into foods kids already love! Pasta sauces with pureed vegetables, smoothies with spinach, or healthy dipping sauces, just to name a few.
Get Them Involved
Kids are more likely to eat a dish if they played a role in making it. They often have a sense of ownership over their dish and might even convince other hesitant children to take a bite.
The more involved your kids can be, the more likely they are to be open to trying new things. Let them pick foods at the grocery store, be in charge of pouring, stirring, cutting (if old enough), cooking, seasoning, or anything else they like to do.
How do we help involve kids in mealtime?
Even though there may be some initial hesitation, the truth is, kids like to take ownership over jobs they’ve done. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride. No matter what age your kids are, there are many ways to help in the kitchen.
Assign children to the following jobs by having them draw popsicle sticks (can get at any craft store) for each task needed for the menu. Making it a fun game where they draw new jobs each time brings excitement and helps them practice new skills.
Meal Prep Tasks for Kids
- Get out all pots, pans, spoons, or other utensils needed to make the dish
- Get out all food ingredients & seasonings to make the dish
- Be in charge of cutting, chopping, dicing, etc. (for an older kid or mom)
- Be in control of pouring the ingredients
- Be in charge of stirring all ingredients
- Set the table
Older children can pick 2-3 jobs while younger children help with one. I’ll let you decide if you want to assign clean-up jobs too, but that’s not the subject of this post. Good luck!
Now, remember, following these methods don’t just magically change your children's taste buds. It takes time. The key is to take a systematic approach.
The general rule is this: Always make sure your child’s meal has at least one food item they already like on their plate. Then slowly incorporate 1-2 new food items each time. Sometimes it takes a lot of practice and patience before kids come around.