Do you have a toddler who refuses to eat anything you put on their plate? I’m sharing 10 Parents Hacks For Picky Eaters.
When I don’t know what to make for dinner or don’t have the energy, here’s what I do. I make a snack plate! It’s the easiest meal, you don’t need to cook or prep anything. You can create a cold snack plate by putting together things in your fridge and pantry. I like to slice an avocado, add some fruit, crackers, and sliced cheese, and get creative. Your toddler will have many options to choose from and will find something they will eat and might even try something new. This is the perfect opportunity to sneak something they haven’t tried yet.
Food combination is something I’ve been doing more often with my two-year-old. I’m trying to get her to try different food combinations and allow her to get involved, with making her food. For example, I started with some almond flour crackers and taught her to add cheese, turkey slices and let her sprinkle on nutritional yeast and sesame seeds. She thought it was so much fun adding all the food together.
When she had the chance to make the new food combination herself, she normally loves it. The same strategies go for pizza night and taco night. If your child is a part of making their food and enjoys putting everything together. They’ll likely be excited to try the food, and you’ll have the opportunity to get them to try new foods. I know if I were the one who added things like black sesame seeds to her food, she would probably pick them out, but if she does it, then she’s more likely to try them.
Make it fun if your child is at the table and refusing to eat their food. Pick up the broccoli and say, “Is there a dinosaur that wants to eat the broccoli?” (Encourage your child to be the dinosaur to eat the broccoli). You can be as silly as you want, honestly the sillier you are, the more likely your child will eat the broccoli. I know we grow up hearing, “Food is not for playing,” but…sometimes it can be, especially if it makes eating a happier experience for your toddler.
I’m knee-deep in the picky toddler stage right now. Every day is new, and every day she decides what she likes and dislikes. It doesn’t matter if she liked it yesterday; today is a new day, and it will change. I’m trying to navigate how to get her to like things with color and different textures constantly so she doesn’t fall into the trap of only wanting “beige foods.”
I was making tacos this week and wanted to have guacamole on the side. No one likes just plain mashed avocado (that’s boring), and Sage was also having a meltdown. I thought, how can I finish dinner and fix Sage’s meltdown? I asked Sage, “Do you want to help make the guacamole?” I pulled out her learning tower, toddler cutting board, and knives. Sage then chopped up the avocado, and added the chopped cilantro, sea salt, and fresh lime juice to the guacamole, and guess what?…. she ate it and enjoyed it!
These tactics work! If I had added the cilantro ahead of time to the guac, there would be no way she would have wanted to eat the specs of greens mashed in. Get your kids in the kitchen cooking, know that it will help them become less picky with their food.
If you’re struggling with ideas on what to cook for your toddlers, I can help! The Baby HealthNut Cookbook is packed with 30+ great recipes specifically designed for babies-toddlerhood. The Baby HealthNut cookbook will help make raising an adventurous eater as easy as 1-2-3!
I love this snack container; it lets you put multiple snacks into different compartments. You can add dry and wet foods because there’s a divider (The foods won’t touch). The best part is the button in the middle. Your child can push it, and the container moves in circles allowing your child to select the snack of their choice. (It’s fun for adults too!) This snack container adds an extra layer of excitement when introducing new snacks, the independence of allowing them to choose and making snacking on the go easier.
If you can’t find that snack container, the same concept works with an ice cube tray with a top. You can still add multiple different snacks, both dry and wet. The lid allows you to store snacks for trips like long car rides.
If you want to be a Pinterest mom but don’t have the time, I have the hack for you! Next time you’re at the store, pick up a few extra toddler fruit pouches. Then squeeze out little blobs from the pouch onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer the cookie sheet to the freezer, and now you have homemade frozen fruit/yogurt drops. These are a fun and refreshing snack that are easy to pull out of the freezer anytime. Pinterest mom made easy!
Our toddler loves to attack the fruit bowl! When the bananas are ripe, and she goes to grab a banana, all the stems of the other bananas come off too. What I’ve learned to do is when I get home from the grocery store, I separate the bananas into singles before placing them into the fruit bowl. That way, when my daughter goes to grab one, she only grabs one at a time. If you didn’t read my food waste blog post, this is another great way to make your bananas last longer because they don’t ripen as fast when separated.
Random question, but how do your kids like to eat their bananas? Sometimes Sage likes to have the banana peel attached, and sometimes, she wants me to cut it up. I’m always trying to get it right, but it changes daily, and I’m sure you can relate. Comment below, I’m super curious.
Having dedicated kitchen scissors is a must and comes in handy for so many things outside of just opening food packaging. Scissors are perfect for cutting your little one’s food and work great for things like spaghetti, meat, fruit, or really anything. It makes it much easier than bringing out a cutting board and will save you so much time.
I don’t know about your kids, but my toddler will get super angry if she asks for more of a food item and there is actually none left, but she doesn’t understand. I’ve learned quickly that for us to reduce big feelings, I need to be able to show her that the plate or packet is, in fact, empty. If it’s close to dinner time and she wants more snacks, I’ll remove the extra snacks from the bag and show her the empty packet or give her the packet with fewer snacks in it so she knows when it’s empty, it’s done. I’ve even made the mistake of throwing away the bag in the trash, and she will walk over to the trashcan and check to make sure it’s really empty. Often, it’s just getting creative to communicate with them and get them to understand certain things.
We use bowls in our house as “no bowl”. We use them at the dinner table. Before we started using the “no bowl” Sage would quickly throw the food she didn’t want to eat onto the ground. Usually, when kids don’t like certain foods, they don’t want them on their plate and touching their other food. I started using this concept and told Sage if she didn’t want to eat a particular food, she needed to place that food in the “no bowl.” The “no bowl” strategy gives them a place to put food they dislike, off their plate but not on the floor. This takes some time to get used to and a lot of practice, but I started showing Sage that if I didn’t like food, and took it off my plate, I put it in the “no bowl,” She quickly started doing it too.
I hope that these tips help you navigate the picky eater stage. Whether that is a 2,3,6,10-year-old picky eater, some kids are just picky until adult life. My goal is to help you raise adventurous eaters that love to discover and try new foods with various colours, textures, and flavours when it comes to food.
Don’t forget to grab a copy of The Baby HealthNut Cookbook, this digital cookbook is packed full of 30+ recipes that will help you navigate feeding your kiddos, one meal at a time.
If you’re looking for more toddler content, be sure to check out Top 19 Food Hacks for Picky Eaters,
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