We don’t usually have a problem with my son eating, or eating healthy meals. He usually likes most of the healthy food we give him, and he’s rather open to trying new foods. He also eats 3 full meals a day with 1 or 2 snacks. In comparison to some of my friends’ children, he sometimes even eats more than a 3 year old (and he’s 2). However, we do notice that he goes through growth spurts and eats more or less from time to time.
For instance, I recently tried to feed him this easy and quick yet healthy lunch of sweet potatoes, black beans, avocado and tomato. He’s eaten this before so I didn’t think too much of it. This time though he only wanted to eat the avocado and sweet potato, “turning up his nose” at the beans and tomatoes.
Here’s how I got him to eat ALL of this meal without fuss or fighting. It may not work for everyone, but it works for now with my son:
- Read your child a book while eating. Distraction with a book is key with my son. He sometimes gets so involved in the book that he doesn’t notice the next bite that includes the food he didn’t want. This obviously won’t work too well with a big family meal, but it works for those quiet lunches or dinners with just the two of us. I find this is also a way to get a busy toddler to sit still long enough to eat a whole meal! I also find it’s better than TV, as I don’t want him to connect TV with eating.
- Mix bites together. He said he didn’t want the beans or tomatoes, but when I put some beans on his spoon with sweet potatoes he ate them all, and when I combined the avocado with tomatoes he ate all those too!
- Keep offering. I’ve heard this tip before, but to me this means keep offering them the food on multiple occasions, and also multiple times during the meal. Many times my son says he doesn’t want beans when he sees them on his plate, but he ends up eating them most times when I don’t make a big deal out of it and help feed him his meal.
- Be patient. As all parents know, this about sums up parenthood in general. I’ve learned and I’m still learning to be a more patient person/parent. During another recent meal he claimed he wanted nothing to eat. So, I covered his plate and told him that it would be here when he wanted it. He went into the living room but I noticed he was watching us eat out of the corner of his eye. He eventually came in and said “I’m ready”! Patience is key ALL the time, but especially in trying to get a toddler to eat a healthy meal!
There are lots of great tips out there about how to get your child to #1 eat, and #2 eat healthy foods. I thought this was a great article on AskDrSears.com about tips for feeding a picky eater.
I’d love to hear any other tricks and tips for getting a toddler to eat!