Does your kiddo refuse to eat broccoli, even when you call them 'trees'? Will he only drink orange juice with no pulp because the texture drives him crazy? Or does your girl only ask for chicken nuggets each day? Well we've been there, and the good news is: we have some tricks for you to get through this picky eater phase!
Tip #1: Hide The Nutrition
If you have a little one who refuses to (knowingly) eat veggies, try incorporating them into the meals in sneaky ways. Some easy ideas are making lasagna using thinly sliced zucchini instead of pasta noodles, shredding cauliflower in place of rice. There's even a great recipe for broccoli tater tots. Another great way to ‘hide’ the nutrition is shakes. There are so many yummy recipes out, even a peanut butter chocolate spinach smoothie. I promise, you don’t even taste the spinach and your little ones will think they're having dessert for breakfast!
Tip #2: Make It Fun
Some kids are easily fooled and distracted, and they are the perfect audience for silly faced plating. If your child is a picky eater, try putting in some extra effort and rearranging the food on the plate so it makes a silly face! If you're having toast with peanut butter and bananas for breakfast - smear the peanut butter on the toast and add the banana slices to make a smiley face. Or the classic 'ants on a log' snack with celery, peanut butter smeared in the middle, and raisins or grapes stuck into the peanut butter. If you have any old cookie cutters lying around, you can use them as pancake stencils, or even egg stencils to make breakfast more fun. Your little one may not love fruit, but if you arrange the blueberries to spell "I Love You", maybe she'll be more inclined to gobble them up!
Tip #3: Don’t Bribe, Compromise
Although bribing may not be a popular strategy, compromising is a skill that can be taught at a young age – starting with food, of course. Let’s say you have one of those ‘wants chicken nuggets for all 3 meals’ kind of kid. Along with the obvious lack of proper nutrients, it takes away from other tasty foods he could be experiencing. But instead of forcing food onto your child, try to make it exciting for her to indulge with her chicken nuggets. Come up with a solution, propose it, and discuss it. Something like, “Now I know chicken nuggets are yummy. But we need to eat some food that is a little better for our bodies, healthy foods make our bodies grow big and strong! So from now on, for breakfast we’re going to eat something yummy and good for us, and for dinner we are all going to eat the same meal together as a family. But for lunch, you can count on having chicken nuggets when we’re at home!” Showing your child how to compromise and still give them a piece of what they love so much (whether it be nuggets, popcorn, Pop Tarts, pizza, macaroni, etc.), will hopefully help them to expand their palate.
Finally, Tip #4: Don’t Give Up
The season of a picky eater is hard, and sometimes it can feel never-ending. But being able to throw in some extra nutrition with your kids noticing, makes eating a fun and exciting experience. Remember, working on coming up with a solution and new ideas together is key! Of course if you do have concerns regarding your child’s lack of nutrition, that is something to be taken seriously and discussed with your pediatrician. However, at the end of the day (or month, or year) your child may never like sweet potatoes, and that’s fine. As long as you are trying and enforcing your rules, you’re doing your job, Mama! This doesn’t mean to never serve sweet potatoes again – but maybe drop the bar down and only ask for 3 bites instead of 10. Remember, your kid is just that – a kid. For the most part they’re trying their bests and they want to make you happy and proud of them.
One bite at a time, here we go! Wishing you the best of luck.
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