Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Tips For The Picky Eater

Every time I have a new child come to my childcare it's the same ordeal. Getting them to eat the foods set before them! It's never easy and at minimum it takes about 3 days before they feel comfortable trying new things without help!
On top of that there's always food allergies to deal with and then those children who just refuse to eat certain foods that may not be good for them anyways. So that brings into question, "Do I make them eat it?" ... For those of you wondering that is a very rare occasion!

My saving grace for my picky eaters is peer pressure. Any parent with more than one child will tell you peer pressure often works better than anything! I always have my cheer leading team of four year old's telling the new kids how yummy it is and that they should just try it! But, when that doesn't work or if you don't have the luxury of feeding 6 other kids here are a few things I do.

Some of these tricks do absolutely depend on the intelligence of your child! ;-)

Disclaimer: I only use these tricks on the younger children, those older than 5 just don't get to watch TV if they don't eat! Simple.

Tip 1: Stamps, Stickers, and Treats
This one may be the obvious one for you, but make it a really big deal. Don't use the same stamps you use for going potty or being good. Get special stamps and stickers and save them for FINISHED meals only! That means no giving in Mom's! Involve your child in the purchasing of the stamps and then only allow them when their food is gone. This may not work all the time but I would say it has a 50% success rate so try it!
Save the treats for certain meals! As adults, we know that we shouldn't be eating dessert after every meal. Neither should our children! Treats can be as simple as 2 Jelly Beans, a small cookie, or if your extreme, try frozen fruit! All that matters is that they are getting something they wouldn't normally get!

Tip 2: Distraction
I have a child that only comes once a week and she struggles with eating at home. After trying with the stamps and treats and having a 50% success rate I decided to kick it up a notch. I knew that if she would only try the food set in front of her she would like it but I would just have to figure out a way to get that first bite in without a melt down. I asked her about her sister and she started getting excited and talking up a storm, so I put a spoon full of food in her mouth and she barely noticed it, then I asked her more questions about exciting things and I gave her a few more bites. After 3 minutes her food was gone and she was happy as a clam and she even ate some bites on her own! Victory!
This may not always work, but it's worth a shot right? What does your child get excited about?? Cars? Balls? Animals? Get them talking, get that first bite in without them noticed and see what happens!

Tip 3: Disguise Your Food
If your to the point of giving up, DON'T! If your child will only eat junk food here are a few tips.

Mac N Cheese: Use REAL Cheese, it doesn't take much time to throw in some real grated cheese! Cuts out the processed cheese part and already ten times better for your child! Add in some frozen spinach. Your child might throw a fit at first but it will be hard to separate out so eventually they will give in and eat it, and realize that it's not all that bad! Corn is also a good option.

Spaghetti: Make your own sauce! It is not very difficult and you can make a fast version if you like. In your sauce throw in a ton of veggies but dice them so small your child won't be able to tell! My veggies of choice are: mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Use applesauce instead of jelly. Get the unsweetened kind, it has less sugar and less chemicals. Also, ALWAYS use whole grains!!!

Quesadillas: I never serve these without fresh spinach in them! The kids might complain at first but will eventually realize they don't taste the spinach!

These are just a few of my tips I use on a daily basis, as I think of more I will post them! If you have any questions or comments lemme know! Also, feel free to criticize!


  1. Joy, you're a genius. I'm going to add spinach to my quesadillas from now on. We like spinach--but I just never thought about doing it. And my favorite hint was the 'gettem while their talking", what a hoot. Hey, if it works, why not?

  2. Do these tips work for husbands too? lol, naw Brady will eat anything (except cantaloupe, weird, huh?)

  3. Hey I don't blame him!! But you could definitely get him all excited talking about a truck and shove some cantaloupe in there!