Toddler Mealtime Battle – 101 Things to Try for a Kid Who Won’t Eat


If you haven’t already found the value of the art of distraction on your own, prepare to be amazed. I’ve seen my daughter eat twice the normal amount of food when her mind has been on something else. I read about another mom whose son ate an entire apple or more during her morning jog. My daughter has similar mindset – she is way too active and excited to play with her things, but when you finally get her to stop thinking about the task of eating, by doing something else and keeping the focus on that, which she truly enjoys, you can actually have a lot more mealtime success.

  1. Allow your child to watch a show or movie so you can sneakily insert food into distracted mouth.
  2. Play a board game with child while popping bite-sized pieces of food into distracted mouth.
  3. Let your child watch short YouTube videos on a tablet while you sneakily get him or her to eat small bites.
  4. Make everyday foods more interesting. My mom used to hide hardboiled eggs inside of the meatloaf before baking it. When it was done, everyone wanted a slice with the egg inside!
  5. Distract with a new food serving method—separate the components of your child’s meal into those adorable silicone cupcake cups. Use different colors to coordinate with your meal and enhance with shaped food as appropriate.
  6. Try a fun placemat to change things up every so often. Talk about the characters or scene on the placemat and let your child know how happy the characters are when she eats her dinner. You can even make a personalized placemat using family photos or photo Christmas cards and laminating them on different colors of cardstock or construction paper.
  7. Give your kid a cup of food to stick in the cup holder of the jogging stroller on your morning run.bob-jogging-stroller-snacking
  8. Every once in a while, let your child eat a meal on an old school “TV tray table” watching a favorite show. (if you have one or can get one) I still remember sitting in front of Leave It to Beaver (over-dating myself here) with my Trix Rabbit TV tray and some mixed vegetables and Cocoa Puffs. The TV tray was the most exciting part!
  9. Teach your child about another culture and then make or order some ethnic fare.
  10. Let your little kids play with their food! Putting raspberries on their fingertips and eating them one by one can be great fun. Opening up the peapod to reveal the peas inside might just change their minds about green vegetables.
  11. Weather permitting, eat outside! The change of scenery can be all you need to inspire an appetite.

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