How to fix a picky eater? Check out this mom’s tips on making kids enjoy mealtime!
What can you read in this article?
- This mom’s experience when her toddler was picky about food
- Her 6 tips on how to fix a picky eater
Hey Moms! Keiki here. I have a 2-year-old toddler and a 9-month-old baby girl. I am thankful that they will eat mostly anything you give them.
Whether it be veggies or any meal I have prepared for them, but there are days when they won’t even try eating what I offer them. In today’s post, I share my tips for picky eaters during mealtime.
My kids and their picky eating habits
When they start eating solids, kids are excited to eat whatever you offer them. But our problem with eating started when my son, Kian, turned one.
On his first birthday, we had a party and the main dish was sinigang. “Ayaw pala niya ‘yon!” That’s when we realized that he has become a picky eater.
From then on, whenever we would offer him sinigang or any sour-tasting dish, Kian would not eat it. So, whenever we would have anything like those meals, there would always be a backup for him if he were to refuse to eat the original meal prepared.
We know, too, that he doesn’t like weird-textured food like okra or (sometimes) eggplant. But, he does like chayote, kalabasa, and string beans.
By knowing what he likes and dislikes, we are able to adjust the meal plans we make for the week so that he eats a good portion of veggies and meat from the meal given to him.
Image from Mommy Keiki
Tips on how to fix a picky eater
1. Know what they prefer
It is important to know what your kids like and dislike so that when the time comes and they have a fit over something that you have offered them and they say no, you know how to diffuse the situation or avoid it entirely.
Focus on meals wherein their favorite vegetable is in it. They are more likely to finish it all up if they have something that they really enjoy in the meal.
Avoid the things that they don’t like, but make sure that there is still an alternative to it. You cannot just not give them veggies if they don’t like veggies. So, try to find something that is a good substitute for the thing they don’t like.
I took note of whatever the food was that my son didn’t like, so that if ever that was in our menu, I would prepare something that he would eat.
Whenever we would make a weekly meal plan, I would think, “Does he like this food?” If he doesn’t, I’ll make a small portion of veggies on the side that he eats, so that I won’t have to make him a new meal and I won’t have to conform to what he suggests I cook for him. I’ll have something prepared for him already.
Another thing to remember: if your child is used to using a certain plate or utensil, make sure that you offer the food in this plate to avoid any tantrums at mealtime. I realized Kian does not like eating if it’s not in his favorite green plate. I think we really have to listen to what they want.
2. Make it colorful
Kids love playing. Try making meals presentable and colorful so that they are engaged and actually want to sit down and eat what is in front of them.
Kian loves carrots, chayote, peas, and corn- because they give so much color to his plate and he enjoys picking at them. So whenever we would make our meal plan, we choose food that are colorful like menudo, the ones that have green peas, carrots, potatoes, stuff like that.
Try adding vegetables and fruits to the meal so that pop of color stands out.
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3. Make it fun
When Kian and Kali start getting weary and bored with mealtime, they won’t eat their food. When this happens, my husband and I engage with them. We talk to them, ask them about the meal, play “airplane” with their food, and just make mealtime fun.
I know it is not good to play with your food or to play at the dining table during meals, but we are dealing with kids. Play is everything to them. We have to go to measures to make them like what they want. If we don’t have any measures for them to get it into their mouth, it really won’t work.
Image from Mommy Keiki
4. Eat as a family
Many western families feed their kids during meal time while they eat separately, after their kids. But I believe that it is better to eat altogether as a family. This way, the kids get to see you eating and they will copy you- kids learn better from copying.
It’s so helpful to eat as a family so that they can see that we’re eating the food that we prepared. Before, I didn’t eat with the kids so that I can watch them. But if I’m not eating, Kian doesn’t feel like he has to eat it too.
When the pandemic started, I started eating with them. So then the kids can see that I’m eating the food, Daddy’s eating it, so they’ll think, “Everybody’s eating it. Maybe it’s good. I’ll eat it too.”
I know it may be tough sometimes since most of your attention will be on the kids and not on your food, but in the long run, it instills family values and a better mealtime routine.
5. Always offer their dislikes before giving in to their demands
Make sure that you try to give them their dislikes first, too, from time to time. Like I said earlier, Kian didn’t like sinigang before, but with us always making it and offering it to him, he has come to like it too.
If the child isn’t really interested in eating, don’t force it to him because he might get traumatized because of force-feeding them.
6. No snacks before mealtime
I like to bake, so there’s always cookies and cupcakes in the house and we always have snacks that are available, and Kian knows how to get them. If he’s already had a snack before dinner, he won’t feel hungry.
So with Kian, we implement this rule: no snacks at least 30 minutes before mealtime. And with Kali, I make sure that her last breastfeeding session was at least 30 minutes before we sit down for a meal.
Success story with Sinigang
I realized that we were successful in feeding Kian when he learned to eat sinigang. You have the eggplant, the okra, the sour soup – he didn’t like any of those before. When he wouldn’t eat the sinigang, I would give him rice with soy sauce. I didn’t force him to eat sinigang, but it’s in our menu and we would encourage him to taste it.
I don’t know the exact moment that he liked sinigang, but I can say now that he really likes it. Sometimes he would just take the soup and the meat and the veggies without any prodding from me. It just creeps up on you.
About the author
Kaylynn “Keiki” Adolfo is a mother of two living in the Summer Capital of the Philippines. With her blog and social media accounts, she shares her experiences with other moms and help them in common problems they face such as meal preps for babies and toddlers. Another interesting thing to note is Mommy Keiki prepares all the ingredients for meals, but it’s dad who cooks it. Great tandem!