Ok, so maybe "picky" isn't really the word for him. . . "stubborn" might be more accurate. Regardless of how you would describe your toddler, sometimes mealtimes and snacktimes can be a challenge (and I won't mince words on that one!). So what's a mom (or dad) to do? Kids need to eat! And they can't just eat cookies and freezies no matter how much they want to.
I'm going to let you in on our secret. . . and, be warned, it's kind of cheesy. It's all about selling the experience. Take something nutritious, plate it to look neat and give it a silly name. Voila! Instant interest for a creative little mind.
For example, the dish below isn't apples with peanut butter - it's "Peanut Butter Blossoms":
Because it looks like a flower :)
And this one? Sunshine Cheese & Crackers:
Totally sunshine-y, amirite?
It might sound ridiculous but D eats this up - he loves the fun of it and also, actually eating. He doesn't ask for cheese and crackers, he asks for "Sunshine Cheese and Crackers" - seriously - and he berated my husband for not plating his apple correctly. Virtually any snack can be a silly face or a flower or another shape that will rock your child's world. It doesn't even need to add a lot of time or hard work. It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.
Here are some other ideas:
- Peanut Butter Spirals - tortilla, spread with pb, roll up and slice into spirals (not into pb? you could use your fave nut-free spread, spreadable cheese, hummus, etc. - same with the apples up top). . . bonus points for wrapping around a banana :)
- Ants on a Log - celery with pb/spreadable cheese inside and raisins along the top
- Ladybug Pita Pizzas - mini pitas with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni (if you like) and black olives (if your kids like)
- Spaghetti Cake - this Jamie Oliver recipe was tasty but the name of it had my toddler giggling maniacally and snapped him out of a full on tantrum - magic!
- Fruit Face - berries, banana, melon, whatever you have, plated to make a smiley face
- Egg Carton Surprise - this one's from my mom when I was a kid! fill each cup of an egg carton with a little treat (snack mix, olives, raisins, smarties, grapes, chocolate chips, raspberries, cherry tomatoes - whatever you have that's little like that; aim for at least 2-3 different options to keep it interesting), close the lid and it's a surprise!
- homemade freezies / popsicles made with pureed fruit or juice (you can even use a yogurt-based smoothie!)
Whatever you choose to make, involving your child in the kitchen is another piece of magic to get them eating. It does add time, and mess, so be prepared for that but even if all s/he does is pour in pre-measured ingredients and stir, it's now something they "made". Ownership makes a meal special. . . and cooking skills last a lifetime :)
Other great tips and ideas? Please share in the comments - I'm always looking to change things up!