Winning over your picky eater is no new topic on this blog, but it’s something that many parents continue to struggle with day after day. So this is why I am super excited to share some new healthy eating tips with you straight from two experts in the field (and both sponsors of our blog)! Cai Dixon, co-creator of the Copy-Kids, and Kia Robertson, creator of the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit, have both created award-winning yet simple resources that get kids interested in—and eating!—their fruits and veggies. Both Cai and Kia are fellow moms who feel passionate about helping other parents overcome the typical struggles they face when trying to get their children to eat a varied diet.
First Off, Set the Tone:
- Be Flexible
What does flexibility look like? It will vary from household to household. Here is what flexibility looks like in my home:
My 5-year-old took a bath first thing when she woke up today. I figured out a few years ago that coupling happy bath-time play with a meal was an excellent way to get her to eat more. First she started with a banana. Then she asked for a second banana. Then I set a divided plate on a low stool next to the tub. The plate contained red cabbage, cauliflower, celery & a cherry tomato – each in its own compartment, because she doesn’t like things to touch. And she ate them all. Yep, veggies for breakfast!
- Be Creative
Sometimes a story prompt from you is all that is needed to get your child to eat. “Bunnies love carrots. There once was a bunny who ate 100 carrots in one meal. Could you eat 100 carrots?”
Creativity could include arranging a story scene on a plate. A sun, a house, a happy-face designed from the pieces of the meal. You can employ child-friendly dishes & utensils. Candles on a table at mealtimes can make the meal more appealing & pleasant. Lighten things up… move away from familiar norms of “sit-up-straight, eat-your-food, stop-wiggling, no-talking, chew-with-your-mouth-closed.” I’m not suggesting that you abandon good manners. Merely that you make creative efforts to bring joy to the table with optimal nutrition consumption always as the prime goal.
- Go Easy on Yourself
Give yourself a pat on the back because no matter where you are in this feeding journey you have been doing the best you can with what you know. This parenting gig doesn’t come with a manual – it’s a “learn as you go” job so go easy on yourself!
- Stop Comparing
Try not to compare yourself to other parents and how they are feeding their kids. Each child is unique and there isn’t one best or right way that works for everyone. It can feel disheartening to think that other parents have got it all figured out and you’re still struggling no matter how hard you try. Just keep learning new recipes, techniques and ideas that you can implement in ways that best fit your family.
- Be Calm
Before you feed your kids just give yourself a moment to take a deep breath and put a smile on your face. Even if you know the meal might be met with resistance, approach each mealtime as a fresh start. Have confidence that you are providing your kids with a good meal and how much of it they eat and enjoy is up to them. If they reject your new spinach dish it’s not a reflection of your parenting skills or how much they love you.
Try These Suggestions:
- Serving New Food
Trying a new food can be very intimidating for a picky eater. I know it can be hard to understand if you’ve never been a picky eater…what’s the big deal about trying something new, right?! Well it is a very big deal for many different reasons. So when serving something new put the tiniest sample on their plate. When I say tiny I mean microscopic…as in bring a magnifying glass to the table! A teeny shred of lettuce, one grain of wild rice, half a blueberry…you get the picture. I know it sounds silly and actually that’s part of the strategy. Using humor and some fun is a great way to introduce something new. It will improve your chances at getting your picky eater to give it a try and that is half the battle when it comes to picky eating. I think Mary Poppins had the right idea when she said “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun! You find the fun and snap…the job’s a game!” Kids love having fun so use that to your advantage and have a laugh together over a kernel of corn!
- Texture Texture Texture
Did I mention texture? Texture issues are one of the biggest holdups for picky eaters, finding out what textures they like will be very useful information for you. Try serving your picky eater fruits and veggies in different forms and textures. Maybe they like crunchy, or perhaps smooth, some may prefer bumpy (like broccoli). You can achieve different textures by changing how you prepare them – try serving produce steamed, grilled, raw, baked, frozen, juiced, roasted, etc.
- Keep Trying
I know how disheartening and frustrating it can be to keep serving food over and over again only to have it rejected and even worse, tossed on the floor! But here’s the thing, studies have found that it can take at least 10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted and that number gets a lot higher when dealing with a picky eater. So don’t give up too soon…you’re in the business of training taste buds and that takes a lot of patience and repetition. You can print off a free Today I Tried chart to help you and your kids keep track of how many times they are trying a new food. Once again turning this into something fun can help you successfully stay on track and get your kids on board.
- The contest is open to those with U.S. or Canadian shipping addresses only.
- You have THREE chances to enter the contest by leaving comments below:
- 1st entry: Please leave a comment below sharing your picky eater tip (or frustration!)
- 2nd entry: If you like Copy-Kids on Facebook you can leave another comment below. Just say “like Copy-Kids” on your entry/comment.
- 3rd entry: If you like Today I Ate A Rainbow on Facebook you can leave another comment below. Just say “like Rainbow” on your entry/comment.
- The contest will end at midnight EST on Monday, February 11th.
- The winners will be selected at random and announced on the “100 Days of Real Food” Facebook page as well as emailed directly (so make sure your address is entered correctly in your comments below!). The winner will have 3 days to respond before they are disqualified, and a new winner is chosen.
Kia Robertson is a mom, children’s book author and the creator of the award winning Today I Ate A Rainbow kit that gets kids ASKING to eat their fruits and veggies by turning healthy eating into a fun game! As a former picky eater, Kia is passionate about helping parents overcome the typical struggles they face trying to get their children to eat their fruits and vegetables. Learn more at: https://www.todayiatearainbow.com/
Cai Dixon is a mom and co-creator of Copy-Kids. Copy-Kids makes video content encouraging positive habits in young children by encouraging them to copy other kids. Their debut release is a DVD entitled Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables. In it you’ll find children joyfully eating fruits and vegetables. Kids watching it want to join in. It’s that simple. And it’s effective. Find them at: http://copy-kids.com/