Anyone else out there have a picky eater at home? A toddler, by chance? ...
Here are some tips that have helped us as Ellie has become more of a picky eater as she has entered toddlerhood.
1. Toddlers love to play with their food. So let them play with it... feel it with their fingers, look at it up close... sometimes they need to make a little bit of a mess before they end up eating what's in front of them. It's all part of their discovering the world, and let them do it. Just be prepared with bibs. These are my favorite.
2. Make it look fun. We had "ants on the log" (celery + peanut butter + raisins) today and she loved eating all the ants off the celery first. Make your fruit into fruit trains with wooden skewers, use cookie cutters to make your sandwiches into shapes, arrange it in a muffin tin... be creative!
3. If you can, eat similar food. Toddlers mirror and mimic us, and so if they see us eating the same food that is on their plate, they're more bound to do it.
4. Use sounds or play games to make eating more interactive. With our celery today, we had a contest to see who could bite with the biggest "crunch." She ate it up. Turn anything into a game, and you have them fooled.
5. Limit other distractions. Don't have the TV on while you eat, clear the toys away out of sight, and sit down with them. Make it your time together. This works wonders for us because Ellie is like..... #squirrel! :)
6. If possible, I like to have veggies and fruit at each meal, a healthy source of fat, and protein source. Today... fruit for my complex carbs, celery and pickles for her veggies, peanut butter for her healthy fat, and lean turkey for protein. Boom.
7. Don't offer a treat after every meal and try to avoid using treats for bribes (this can be REAL hard as a mom, I know). I like offering other things as bribes/rewards... she can get a sticker if she does something great, she can go to the park if she finishes her food, etc. Celebrate the victories!
8. Have we ended up in the drive-through on a crazy day? Absolutely. Are there days when I feel like all she's had is goldfish crackers and string cheese? Absolutely. Are there days/weeks when I absolutely fail at making homemade meals? Absolutely. Does it take some picky eaters months/years to learn these things? Absolutely. The goal is NEVER perfection, just progress. Remember you can't control what your children eat outside your home and that's okay-- but you CAN control what food is available in your home, and make it count.
I hope this helps, and I'd love to know some of your secrets! (Hers and mine below)