7 Awesome Tips to Overcome Picky Toddler Eating
For more tips on picky eating, listen to our podcast episode Healthy Eating & Picky Eaters.
Q: I need help with some creative and clever ways to get my 7 year old to eat veggies. We have a high-end blender so I sneak them in smoothies but I would like to get him to eat them knowing he’s eating them! LOL! I bribe, threaten, cry, scream, beg, plead, make it fun, cover it with things. I even have a fun plate where I can make the veggies into faces. He also cooks with me sometimes. NOTHING WORKS!!!!!!! Help!
First you are doing several things well so let me share what those are:
Have your child cook with you. This is great and I’m glad you are doing this. Keep doing it. The more he’s exposed to veggies of all kinds the better. From picking things out of garden, if you have one, to helping prep and serve will only increase his interest. So keep doing that.
I also love that you try to Make it Fun with the use of the face plate. So keep doing that as well!
Adding veggies to smoothies is another suggestion I make in the class Healthy Eating: Preschool and Beyond. Even though he doesn’t know he’s getting it, he is getting a taste for these veggies so when he does get around to trying them in their more natural state, the taste for them is on it’s way to being formed. While you are working on getting him to eat them in a more whole state, keep doing this. Great job with that!
Lastly, I really like that you want to get him to eat them knowing he’s eating them. That is important.
So now I’m going to talk about one of things that you need to stop doing, and give a few suggestions of other things you can do.
First, stop the bribing, threatening, screaming, begging and pleading. As you can see, it doesn’t work. Well it does work, but not for what you want it to! It becomes a power struggle. You can’t force him to eat them so you basically are giving him a lot of leverage, a lot of power. The more you do this, the less he will want to eat it because he knows there is a lot of power in not eating his vegetables. Your job is to offer a wide variety of healthy foods. His job is to decide how much of each he wants to eat. Offer it and let it be his choice. You may just find that he begins to explore these foods when he doesn’t gain power for NOT eating them.
Secondly, research shows that it can take at least 15 times (and for older kids like yours this can be even more) before a child will begin to accept a new food. So keep offering.
Make snacks healthy. A lot of kids will eat smaller meals and hold out for snacks if snacks are processed foods and meals are healthy. You can circumvent that by keeping snacks healthy. If you are trying to increase vegetables, make snacks heavy in vegetables. Offer fresh vegetables and dips like hummus, ranch or whatever is your child’s favorite, even if it’s ketchup! If it gets him to dip and eat fresh vegetables, awesome! Ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) See our printable list of healthy snacks below!
Put Veggies in/on EVERYTHING. Making scrambled eggs? put onions, peppers, mushrooms, or spinach in them. Put veggies on the pizza or in the marinara sauce. He can pick it out, or around it but at least he’s getting exposure and over time will most likely stop picking them out.
For lots more suggestions, our class, Healthy Eating: Preschool and Beyond. healthy eating covers a lot of great ideas and information on helping kids develop a palate for healthy food.