Fun Mealtimes for Picky Eaters

If you have a picky eater, mealtimes can be a nightmare. Know that you’re not alone. A recent survey showed more than 68 percent of registered dietitians, who counsel new parents, frequently receive questions about getting finicky eaters to eat at mealtime. Other surveys have found more than 50 percent of moms say they have a picky eater.

You can transform your picky eater into a healthy eater, if you:

Don’t Buck Nature
Kids prefer to eat with their hands. This gives them multi-sensory experiences, which they need while learning to enjoy whole foods. Let babies eat with their hands. That is how they discover all the attributes of food.

Incorporate as many finger foods as possible for older toddlers. Finger foods make ideal meals for kids since you can combine a variety of small portions on one plate. Tiny baby peas are fun to pick up from the highchair tray. Grated carrots and other veggies and fruit make interesting first-finger food.

For preschoolers, try partnering baked chicken fingers (stay away from prepackaged fried nuggets) with vitamin-rich green beans and sliced baked sweet potatoes for a nutritious meal that’s easy to eat with your hands.

Kids love to dip. So, incorporate healthy dips: mashed avocados, hummus, and yogurt (sweetened with mashed bananas or peaches) for dipping apples, carrot, celery, and veggie sticks.

Even babies like Katelyn can feed themselves.

Offer Only Whole Foods
Avoid the temptation to feed your baby processed foods. If your baby has never had a chip, French fry, or any fast food, he/she won’t miss them. Of course, avoiding junk foods yourself is important because your baby is watching you.

Moms often tell me that their preschoolers refuse to eat anything, but junk foods. Why is that? If you didn’t eat junk food and they were not in the house, the only food your child will eat will be whole, nutritious foods.

What you eat is what your baby will eat. According to the CDC, U.S, adults consuming vegetables are far short of the recommendation 3 servings a day. The time to begin to eat healthy is now. Children naturally eat whole foods, when you eat them and they are only offered whole foods.

Have Fun
Children learn through play. Giving fun, creative names to everyday nutritious foods makes mealtime more fun. According to a 2009 Cornell University study, when kids were offered “X-ray vision carrots” instead of plain carrots, they ate 62 percent more carrots. Come up with silly names for whole foods, such as “cloud fluff” for mashed potatoes or “cheese in the trees” for broccoli florets topped with cheese.

Two adorable creatures incorporated in my books, Baby Betty Bites® and Try Rannosaurus®, transform dreaded mealtimes into fun times. They teach your child that all food is yummy–especially the green variety. They bring fun to the table, while challenging your child to eat nutritious foods. When you include Try and Betty in your mealtimes, your child will discover the attributes of healthful foods. Try and Betty always eat nutritious foods and when you include them at the table they affirm the goodness of yummy whole foods.

Try loves to say, “Green food is yummy!” Betty is an encourager, saying things like, “Mangia bene” (eat well) and “Bravo” for a job well done. You can find out more about these two characters in my books, Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater and the children’s storybook, The Forest Feast. (Click here for a synopsis of both books.)

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