Monday, December 9, 2013

7 Tips for Getting Children to Eat

If you have children I'm sure you've got at least one picky eater on your hands or they have gone through phases at some point or another. I wanted to share with you a few tips I have in my "bag of tricks." They aren't fool proof but often do seem to help. 
My picky eater is my four year old daughter.She can be quite stubborn at times which makes for quite the challenge! Sometimes these tips work and others nothing will get her to eat her meal no matter what I try. 

At our house meal time is not a short order cook service or buffet. I make the meal which I try to ensure that most of my family will like and that's the meal. With the exception of times when we have leftovers or some other quick and easy meal, my children are expected to eat what is served. 

I hope these 7 tips will help you with the picky eaters in your house Maybe you have an idea I haven't tried yet? 

1. Try a Bite
Often when kids see a food that isn't familiar to them they balk at it and write it off as "yucky" without even taking a taste. 

When we have something new I have a one bite rule. My children are required to taste one bite of the new dish. Often they are quite surprised that they actually like it! 

2. Eat Half
This one worked with my oldest when she was preschool age and I'm quite shocked that it still works with my younger ones now. My son though has figured me out and gets frustrated when I try this with him but it does work quite often.

We started off splitting her food in half and saying she had to pick one side and eat just that half. Well this must seem like a game or something because it works! And guess can split it in half again...and again... and again. Before you know it the plate is empty! Little one has a full belly and you are feeling quite accomplished and happy.  

3. Make a "Happy Plate"
ELM happy plate.jpgThis is a new one and the one that got me thinking about ways to get kids to eat at meal time. The day after Thanksgiving we had dinner with my husbands' family. Our children and two of their cousins were at the "kids table" and having quite the time giggling, talking and really not eating. My sister in law tells them, 

"Who can eat ALL their food and make a happy plate/" 

All five of them got quite excited at this concept and excitedly announced they had made a happy plate when they had finished. Now I can just encourage them to "make a happy plate" and it gets them eating instead of complaining. 

4. Keep Offering New Foods
This one seems so simple but at the same time it's easy to overlook. When Hunter was starting out on table foods he would not touch any vegetables, not corn, green beans or any of the others kids usually love. 

I was given the advice to just keep putting a small amount on his plate. Sure enough one night I was in shock when I realized he was eating his green beans! Ever since then he has beencone of my best veggie eaters and even enjoys things like brocoli and asparagus that most kids avoid like the plague. 

Sort of like the one bite idea, this one takes a little more patience. Keep putting it in front of them and it eventually seems less foreign and more familiar. That eases things up and they'll give it a try to find they really do like it. 

5. Consequences 
This may not be an attractive idea and definitely not my first choice but sometimes it's necessary and it does work. We often will have an afternoon snack and one of the consequences of not eating lunch is not getting a snack in the afternoon or dessert after dinner. Several occasions I've had little ones not eat and therefore not get dessert or a snack. The next time meal time came they were happy to eat their food. 

6. Get Them Involved in Cooking
If your kids are anything like mine they will love being in the kitchen helping mom! Get them in there to help stir, pour in ingredients, get things out of the refrigerator or even just set the table. The excitement and enthusiasm over helping make the meal makes them want to eat it more since they got to help. 

7. Limit Snacking
I've seen moms let their kids graze throughout the day on snack foods or even healthy foods. Then meal time comes and they wonder why their children won't eat their meal. If given the choice to eat yummy snacks whenever you please or eat the meal mommy made most children will choose the former. If they are allowed to fill up on other things ALL day they aren't going to be hungry for the meal prepared for them. 

That doesn't mean we don't snack at all. I offer an afternoon snack around 2:30 . It's just that, a snack. Something small and preferably healthy to hold them off a few more hours. Most of the time when our children all refuse to eat we realize that they had snacked excessively or close to mealtime.  

What are your tricks of the trade? 

1 comment:

  1. I think the only ones I haven't tried are 2 and 3. I like the "eat half" idea. I don't think the "happy plate" would work, but it's worth a shot! =) Some days, I just let my pickiest eater get down from the table when everyone is done, but no dessert. Sometimes, he comes back later saying, "I'm hungry" so I tell him to finish his supper. Most of the time, he'll finish it. I guess, some children just have to be really hungry before they'll eat some foods. =) My oldest outgrew his 'picky-ness' by 4 1/2 or 5, so I'm hoping my 3 1/2yo will outgrow it in a year. I'm also expecting my 19mo to become picky by 2yo. I don't cater to pickies, but I've learned to expect it! I think it comes with learning Independence.


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