10 Tips for Moms of Picky Eaters {from a mom}

10 Tips for Moms of Picky Eaters {from a mom}

Tips for Picky Eaters | Tips for dealing with picky eaters | Tips for getting picky eaters to eat | Nutrition tips for picky eaters | Tips for parents of picky eaters | Simple tips for picky eaters | Six Clever Sisters blog has 10 great tips for moms of picky eaters!

Do you have picky eaters at your house? If you have kids that only want to eat pasta and chicken nuggets at every meal, it is stressful wondering if they’re getting enough nutrition! 

Should I force vegetables into my kids’ mouths? Should I stand my ground and not let them eat anything until they’ve eaten what I served them?

The peer pressure of other moms who say “My kids eat everything!” can make you, as a mom, feel like you’re doing something wrong. 

But don’t worry. Having kids that are picky eaters is completely normal. It usually is just a phase that will pass!

 

Tips for Picky Eaters | Tips for dealing with picky eaters | Tips for getting picky eaters to eat | Nutrition tips for picky eaters | Tips for parents of picky eaters | Simple tips for picky eaters | Six Clever Sisters blog has 10 great tips for moms of picky eaters!

 

WHY ARE MY KIDS PICKY EATERS?

  1. They are KIDS. There is a reason that moms talk about “kid food”! Kids naturally gravitate toward what tastes best to them (chips, candy, fried foods, etc.). They’re not thinking long-term about what is good for their bodies, of course! πŸ™‚ Remember – you were a kid once and I bet you didn’t indulge in only the healthiest foods when you were a toddler….so there is hope. πŸ˜‰
  2. They have trouble with textures. This is a real problem with a lot of kids, and many times they do outgrow it! Honestly, you can’t force a kid to choke down mashed potatoes or pea soup if the texture makes him gag. I had one son like this during ages 2-4, so I didn’t force him to eat them. In fact, if I would have, the joke would’ve been on me as I cleaned up his vomit. Eek! Not even kidding!  The good news is that he’s 7 now and loves mashed potatoes…he outgrew the texture issue. Really, some of this picky-eating-business is just a stage. Be patient and don’t stress about it! If you do have a child with unusually sensitive texture issues, you should mention it to your doctor.
  3. They may not be hungry. If you have a toddler, you know he likes to ‘graze’ throughout the day. It’s true that toddlers only need a little food at a time, which makes them hungry more often throughout the day. But try to avoid snacking as you near mealtime! Once my kids outgrow the toddler stage, they get onto our meal and snack schedule, which looks something like this: Breakfast (7:30 or 8:00), Lunch (11:30), Snack (3:00), Dinner (5:30), and maybe something small before their 8:30 bedtime if they are hungry. They know that 3:00 snacktime is the last chance to eat before dinner, because I want them to be hungry for dinner! Scheduling in a snack has worked wonders for making sure my kids are hungry at dinnertime! (Be careful about offering juice or milk close to mealtimes! This will fill them up!)
  4. They truly don’t like the food that’s being served to them. Be honest – are there foods that you won’t eat or that you *really* despise? In my case, I just can’t like mushrooms or olives. Ok, I can get mushrooms down if they’re masked on a pizza, but all these years and I *still* don’t like them. You can’t expect your kids to like everything when you don’t. πŸ˜‰ Be gracious and understand if they truly don’t like something. But don’t stop offering it! You never know when they will try again and like it!

 

Tips for Picky Eaters | Tips for dealing with picky eaters | Tips for getting picky eaters to eat | Nutrition tips for picky eaters | Tips for parents of picky eaters | Simple tips for picky eaters | Six Clever Sisters blog has 10 great tips for moms of picky eaters!

 

 

HOW CAN I GET MY PICKY EATERS TO EAT?

I’ve been a mom for almost 11 years now and have had both great eaters and picky eaters.

I’ve also had toddlers that started out eating anything from vegetables to feta with balsamic vinegar, who became ridiculously picky as they grew into the 4-5 year old stage (for no reason at all!?).

My 9-year-old and almost-11-year-old now eat everything. And they were both picky toddlers. Give them time and slowly help them grow into better eaters! 

Remember that these solutions are temporary – you don’t want to always hide vegetables and change textures.  BUT, they will get nutrition and become familiar with different flavors during this temporary phase, which is very important!

While you’re going through this stage of helping your kiddos learn to like things, also make sure that fruits and vegetables are visible and available for them to try! At our house we have a fruit and vegetable cart next to our kitchen island. Anyone is free to eat the produce in the cart whenever they’d like. I try to keep it stocked with a variety of things for them to try.

 

Here are my top 10 tips for those of you going through the picky eater stage!

  1. Change the texture. If the texture is too thin, thicken it with something….if it’s too thick, thin it! One of my sons used to hate potato soup until I figured out that he just needed a splash of milk in his to thin it down a little – walla! He gobbled it up when it was an ok texture for him! Maybe yours doesn’t like thin soup – try crunching tortilla chips into it to thicken it and see if they’ll eat it that way! Remember, you’re just getting through a phase and they will not need tortilla chips in their soup for the rest of their life. 
  2. Don’t choose to battle over food when you’re on a tight schedule. At our house, every Wednesday night is “Taco night.” Why? Because we *have to* be out the door by 6:00 with happy, fed kids, and all of mine love tacos. Wednesday is not the night for me to try something new or to make a dinner that I know some of them don’t like. Why add that stress to myself when I’m going to be out in public? It simplifies things when you realize it is NOT always worth fighting a battle or proving to your kids that you really mean it when you tell them “eat it or go hungry.” Do you really want to be out in public with a hungry kid having a meltdown?? No. Do that another night if that’s your thing. Enjoy a great night out with your family by making sure everyone is happy and fed. πŸ˜‰
  3. Cut things into small pieces. Nothing is so daunting to little ones as seeing a HUGE piece of whatever it is they don’t like on their plates. I’ve found that they’re far more apt to try when you put a few cut-up pieces on their plate instead of a large serving. Remember, take baby steps as you get through this phase. You are not ruining your kiddos by not forcing them to eat a large serving of something that they struggle to eat. Help them. Start them slow and help them grow into better eaters. 
  4. Try giving little piles of different foods. This is my favorite trick with my 2-year-olds because it *really* works. Instead of a big bowl of bean soup, or a whole plate of eggs, try just a couple bites of several things. This makes it easier to cover all the food groups, and toddlers tend to finish their meal when it’s little piles of several different foods. A lunch plate done this way would look something like this: 10 raisins, a slice of cheese (or less), 2 cucumber slices, 1 strawberry, 6 peanuts, 2 crackers, a cut up piece of lunchmeat, etc. These “little piles” are easily conquered by a toddler, versus a big dish of one thing. Just try it and see! πŸ˜‰ 
  5. Hide veggies in pasta sauce. It’s no secret that most kids love pasta.  Well, take advantage of the pasta party and make the sauce FULL of hidden veggies. To this day, I can add pureed vegetables to our pasta sauce without my family knowing. πŸ˜› Don’t overdo it if it’s going to backfire on you, though. πŸ˜‰ To a jar of marinara sauce, you can easily hide 1/2-1 c. of pureed butternut squash or cauliflower or zucchini! I also use the “fine” side on my grater and make my onions invisible to toddlers before adding them to our marinara sauce. You don’t want to do this forever, but there are stages they go through when you just *have* to get those veggies in somehow! This trick works well!
  6. Sneak healthy foods into smoothies and popsicles. If you’re worried about nutrition intake, you can sneak a lot of crazy things into smoothies and popsicles. (My kids like our Healthy Peaches & Cream Popsicles!) Start with a flavor that you know your kids will love, then add a bit of spinach, a couple pieces of cauliflower, cottage cheese, fruits that they normally won’t eat, or even some cooked beet! Don’t add *so* much that they don’t like their smoothie or popsicle….start small and see if you can increase how much you add each time. (A *great* addition that can make a smoothie taste like a dessert/shake is Naked Nutrition’s PB Powder (I love this brand because it’s 100% Non-GMO Roasted Peanuts…that’s it…no additives.)
  7. Don’t underestimate the power of β€œdips.” 10 years ago, I was watching my mom trick my one-year-old into eating black beans, and I learned the power of dips, haha. I was astounded that she ate them one-by-one with her little tiny fingers when my mom gave her a little pile of ranch-bbq dip! All of a sudden those little black beans were something special for dipping! A healthy dip like hummus or plain yogurt is great, of course. But if ketchup, ranch, or BBQ is all they’ll go for, they’re still learning to like beans, veggies, or whatever else, and they won’t rely on dips forever. πŸ˜‰ 
  8. Put out a tray of cut veggies while you’re working on dinner. If your kids are like mine, they come stalking the kitchen while I’m making dinner and beg for “just one cracker” or whatever else because they’re hungry. I found that if I slice up a cucumber, peppers, or carrots for everyone to munch on while I’m making dinner (crackers are not an option), even my toddlers will grab some to munch on because they’re hungry. I’m not trying to fill them up with this snack, I’m just helping them to get used to enjoying the taste of fresh veggies. πŸ˜‰  Baby steps! 
  9. When introducing a new food, change up your meal setting. Since your long-term goal is not to hide the foods that your kids don’t like, take opportunities like eating outside or going on a picnic to introduce new foods. When you’re in a fun and different setting, your kids might try broccoli trees when they normally don’t! When we’re sitting out in the grass for a picnic, my kids automatically think the whole experience is a FUN & EXCITING one, and they’ll associate the food that I pack as FUN. (Make sure to have some truly FUN foods in there, haha…just sneak a couple new ones in there!)
  10. Let them grow their own vegetables. This might sound like too much work, but honestly, you can go as simple as growing some sugar snap peas in a pot indoors! My 2nd son loves anything that we grow in our garden. He didn’t like fresh spinach until we grew it, and now he goes out and munches on it because HE helped grow it. It’s the same with sugar snap peas – he grew his own last year and was so excited any time there were some to harvest and eat. It’s a great experience for kids to grow their own vegetables, even on a very small scale, and it’s amazing how much they’ll venture out and try new foods as a result!

 

By the way, the Backyard Safari Company makes a cute “kids garden starter kit” that’s very inexpensive!

 

 

In summary, don’t give up hope and only offer to your picky eater his favorite foods! Continue placing a variety of foods on his plate and on the dinner table for the whole family. Be an example of eating fruits and vegetables and any thing “new”!

At some point, your picky eater may get interested and want to try the foods that mom and dad like. πŸ™‚ In the meantime, sneak those veggies into meals so that your picky eater gets plenty of nutrition. Good luck!

I know every mom has some “tricks” when it comes to getting kids to eat – leave a comment below and share your ideas with us!

 

 

Tips for Picky Eaters | Tips for dealing with picky eaters | Tips for getting picky eaters to eat | Nutrition tips for picky eaters | Tips for parents of picky eaters | Simple tips for picky eaters | Six Clever Sisters blog has 10 great tips for moms of picky eaters!

 

 

Tips for Picky Eaters | Tips for dealing with picky eaters | Tips for getting picky eaters to eat | Nutrition tips for picky eaters | Tips for parents of picky eaters | Simple tips for picky eaters | Six Clever Sisters blog has 10 great tips for moms of picky eaters!

 

You and your kiddos will love these Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies!

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How about granola for breakfast, or for a crunchy snack?? My kids like a handful of granola in the afternoon!

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One Comment

  1. This is a great article! I only wish I had been able to read it 17 years ago!

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