Call in the Cavalry
They say it takes a village… time to start taking names and cashing checks. Or something like that.
- Make sure to have family meals whenever possible, all eating together at the same time.
- Have a picnic on the living room floor with some favorite stuffed animals.
- When possible, have the other parent give feeding time a go. Sometimes new and effective ideas will blossom, changing things for the better.
- If guests are over for mealtime, take advantage. If appropriate, encourage your guest to try to inspire your child to eat a better meal. This tactic typically works great with “the fun uncle.”
- When in doubt, have a look at the food pyramid for toddler requirements.
- Allow a grandparent to bring a special “snack” occasionally. My mom brings a McDonald’s hashbrown for my daughter every once in a while. It’s a special treat for her and she seems to like eating from the wrapper. I’m not going to start buying these hashbrowns for her, knowing that she likes them, simply because I think part of the draw for her with this is that it is grandmom’s special snack that she brings. I may eventually try to make some at home, but I have a feeling they won’t go over quite the same way.
- Make up a game involving everyone at the table where you all eat the same food at the same time. We’ve done this successfully with green beans on many occasions.
- Try to arrange a meal at Grandma and Grandpa’s or Aunt and Uncle’s house once a week or so.
- Serve a nutritious drink or smoothie and have your child clink glasses and do “Cheers!” as part of a fun and effective impetus toward better nutrition.
- When appropriate, allow a neighbor or friend to offer something new and different to eat. Curiosity comes into play more.
- Some parents are of the “Eat or Starve” mentality. My child is in the 4th percentile for weight and our pediatrician has already expressed numerous concerns over her size, so I’m not for this camp. Maybe it will work for you, though. Experts seem to agree that a child will not allow herself to starve and will eat when she is hungry.
As much fun as I’ve had writing this entirely-too-long post, the point is that mealtime should not be a battle, even though it sure feels like it. While I’ve presented it as such for comedic value, making mealtime stress-free can work wonders. All of us parents with picky eaters for kids can relate to the constant struggle to get them to eat even just a few bites of food. Making mealtime a fun adventure rather than a tiring challenge can sometimes make all the difference.
But still, picky eaters will be picky eaters and what works for one kid one day may not work again for the very same kid the next day or even for the next picky eater. Good luck and please share your own tactics in our comments below!