Two chickpeas. That’s what my daughter had for dinner once. She ate one at a time, wiped her mouth (at both corners, like a good little girl), looked at me and said, “I’m all full. Thank you, mommy.” I stared at the untouched bowl of homemade mac n’ cheese (the kind with the browned breadcrumbs on top…oh yum) and plate of lightly steamed broccoli florets with a lemon dipping sauce.
Let me explain something. I do two things. Cook and eat. Hubby cleans, which makes us the perfect couple. So to have a child who doesn’t dive into a bowl of mac n’ cheese like someone is about take it away…well, that’s just kooky talk.
It’s not that she won’t try things. She will. But that’s about it. One try. Tiny child = tiny appetite, I guess.
I enlisted the help of well-known author Annabel Karmel, who has written over 19 books on baby and children’s food and nutrition. Titles like The Fussy Eaters’ Recipe Book and The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner put her on my radar. Annabel knows that “fuss” can sometimes be high on the menu when it comes to feeding kids, so she has these great tips:
- Hide your frustration. Praise your child excessively when he eats well or tries something new. Avoid using mealtimes to assert your authority. If there’s a lecture to give, choose another time.
- Keep a supply of healthy snacks on a low shelf in the fridge with cut up fresh fruit and other healthy foods. When children are hungry, they won’t wait.
- Eating with the whole family whenever possible can really make a difference. Taking the focus off your child’s eating and having lots of social chat at the table is helpful.
- It’s important to introduce as many foods as possible at an early age. Try playing a game and blindfold your child before introducing a new food and ask him to guess what it is.
- Most children adore cooking and tasks like squeezing fresh OJ or cracking eggs are well within their capabilities. It’s amazing how being involved in the planning and preparation of a meal can stimulate a child’s appetite.
- Without going to unnecessary lengths, make your child’s food not only taste good but look good too. Cook mini portions in ramekins, make chicken skewers or thread bite-sized pieces of fruit onto a straw.
- Sneak vegetables into other popular dishes such as wraps, cannelloni, lasagna, quesadillas or under grated cheese in pizzas.
- Children like to assemble their own food, so lay ingredients out in bowls and let your child fill and fold their own wraps or choose their favorite toppings for their home made pizzas.
For more information on raising a good eater, please check out this piece I wrote for Wellesley Weston magazine, How To Help Your Kids Be Healthy Eaters.
Do you have a picky eater? What are some of your tricks to get them to eat? Let me know in a comment!