If you have a picky eater, you know how challenging it is to get your child to eat a healthy well-rounded diet. There is nothing you can do to force your child to eat certain foods, but below are some tips to encourage healthy eating habits.
Most toddlers love to dip! To help encourage your toddler to eat veggies, offer some dip on the side, maybe even more than one choice of dip. Besides ranch or ketchup, try offering things like pureed fruits and veggies, guacamole, yogurt, peanut butter, or cottage cheese. Besides dipping, toddlers also like spreading and toppings. Consider offering a spoon or child safe knife to do their own spreading.
Try blending up fruits and veggies into a smoothie. You can add things like Carnation Instant Breakfast for additional protein and vitamins, as well as the fruits and veggies your toddler otherwise won’t eat. Spinach, for example, adds plenty of nutrition but does not change the flavor. Similarly, you can also add veggies to other foods, such as adding onions and spinach to scrambled eggs or adding carrots and zucchini to casseroles and spaghetti.
Mix things up a bit. You can change the venue of the meal by having a picnic on the floor in a different room or take the snack outside. Make it fun by repacking the food in a special container or cutting it in a special size or shape. Depending on the food, you could use a cookie cutter. Try arranging the food in a smiley face or other fun designs.
If possible, let your child help cook. Helping in the kitchen and being part of the meal preparations and decisions may make your child more interested in trying the food he or she made. And if it is safe and nutritious, allow your child to snack while cooking. You can also give your child some control by offering a choice of two things, such as carrots or green beans and bananas or apples. Offering a choice often makes a child feels like it is their decision not yours.
Keep in mind that your toddler’s tummy is much smaller than yours. Consider putting a small amount of food on the plate to start so it is less intimidating. Encourage your child to eat one bite at a time. And remember to keep trying and continue to expose your child to foods. Sometimes it takes many tastes for a child to learn to like a new food, maybe as many as 10 times or more. Do your best to encourage your child to at least try it each time the food is served.
Make meal time the main focus. Turn off the TV and remove all toys and books. It is helpful to eat as a family together at the table, not only to model healthy eating, but also as an opportunity for family bonding.
One of the best things you can do is relax, or at least try to. Most likely your toddler is attempting to assert some independence and control. They are so busy and on the go, often not wanting to sit still and eat. In addition, after the first year toddlers begin to slow down in gaining weight, and may need less food.