Picky Eating Be Gone! 6 Mealtime Tips
We’ve developed these 6 tips with our experts to help stave off picky eating and make mealtime more enjoyable! Cultivating positive eating habits for your little one is no easy task, so we’ve simplified things for you with these six tips to spice up mealtimes:
1. Use cookie cutters to make shapes: What’s more fun than watermelon shaped like a bunny, or a sandwich shaped like a dinosaur? Cookie cutters are an easy way to make food fun for your little one. You can use their favorite shapes or animals to make their food more personal.
2. Use dipping sauces: Don’t be afraid to expose your child to a vegetable by itself! Rather than masking a veg by sneaking it into elaborate dishes, use dipping sauces to add flavor.
- This is our favorite list of dairy-free, gluten-free dips that we think your little one will love.
3. Involve your child in the meal preparation and family meals: Involving you little one in meal prep is a great way for them to get excited about food. When your LO is involved in the preparation process, the meal becomes something they’re more interested and invested in. Children love to know how things are made! In fact, studies have even shown that children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables from a home garden (Nanney 2007)! Children are naturally curious and are often more interested in what you’re eating, so during family meals, let them explore and give them a taste of whatever is on your plate!
4. Use colorful fruits and veggies to make a rainbow: It’s important to show your child all the colors, shapes, sizes, and textures of fruits and veggies. Arranging assorted fruits and veggies in a rainbow pattern is a great way to show them all the different foods out there in an exciting way! Studies show that the earlier you expose your children to different textures and flavors, the more accepting they are of new foods in later childhood (Read more about that here!). A rainbow including red peppers, broccoli, and blueberries is a great way to present your child with healthy foods that have wildly different tastes and textures.
5. Smell, Touch, Play: It can often take 10-20+ times of exposing your child to a new food before they eat it! An exposure can mean smelling, touching, or playing with a food, it does not necessarily mean they have to eat it! Create room for play! The smell and texture of a food can be just as important as the taste, so encourage your LO to explore these elements of a new food too. The more familiar your child is with the smell, texture, and look of a fruit or veggie, the more comfortable they’ll feel during mealtime. You can always give baby-led weaning a try, which encourages confidence through play and exploration of textures, colors, and smells.
6. Use Divided Plates to Introduce a New Food: To introduce a new food, we recommend using divided plates with 2-3 foods you know your child likes, and 1 new food you want them to try. This way, they can explore a new food without the pressure to actually eat it.
Nanney MS, Johnson S, Elliott M, and Haire-Joshu D. 2007. Frequency of eating homegrown produce is associated with higher intake among parents and their preschool-aged children in rural Missouri. J Am Diet Assoc. 107(4):577-84.