There is nothing more frustrating to me than feeding a picky toddler. I am a huge lover of food. I love all types of food from all cultures and I eat food from every food group. That said, you can imagine how frustrating it is to be the parent of a picky eater. It really makes me want to pull my hair out at times. However, with a little patience and some innovation, I have figured out how to make feeding a picky toddler successful.
1. Dress It up
The tip for feeding a picky toddler, as far as I'm concerned, is dressing up the food. While yes, it is time consuming, it is worth it. I have cookie cutters in every shape and size, I have food coloring galore and I have toothpicks coming out of my ears. I make baked yams shaped like trains and turn mashed potatoes into green and blue clouds. Hey - it works, and that's all that matters.
2. Call It Something else
Not only do I dress food up, but sometimes I give it a completely different name. We call chicken nuggets dinosaur claws and we call shredded fruit and veggie pieces "Alex's Hair" (that's Alex the lion from one of my son's favorite movies, Madagascar). We have some whacky names, but the whackier the name, the more my little guy will eat.
3. Let Them Help
Get your picky eater involved in preparing the food. Kids like helping and they feel a sense of pride when they do. When my little one helps make meals, he is way more likely to eat the meal than he is if I make it. So, I let him help me sprinkle cheese on chicken and mash the potatoes. Plus, it gives me a chance to teach him about cooking and even math, which is another bonus.
4. Hide It
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. I have no shame in admitting that I have hidden fruits and veggies in other foods. It's not mean or sneaky; it's smart. I mash up veggies and put them in breads and other baked goods. I put pureed fruit on peanut butter sandwiches. You do what you have to do.
5. Offer It
Sometimes you just have to offer the food. Even if you think that your picky toddler is going to refuse the food, you have to at least make it available. You never know, he may surprise you and actually eat the food - and like it!
6. Set the Example
As a parent, you lead by example; that goes for eating, too. Fill your plate with healthy foods and let your picky toddler see you eating them. Emphasize how much you enjoy the taste of the foods and how you can feel them making you stronger. Most toddlers are inquisitive and will want to try the food based on your reaction.
7. Don't Force It
No matter how much it may drive you crazy that your toddler is picky, don't ever force food on him. All forcing it will do is make him even fussier. Offer it and if he refuses, just say "OK" and move on. Continue to offer the food or try out the above-mentioned tactics to get your little one to eat.
These are proven picky eater tips that I use with my kiddo. It does take patience, but he's not starving and he is eating his fruits and veggies (even if he doesn't know it!) Is your little one picky? What are you doing to get him to eat?