3 strategies to get a toddler to eat

Laila, pickiest eater on earthHi there! For a fun contest-slash-out of desperation, I solicited feedback from the Interwebs on how to get a toddler to eat, already. Laila, my daughter, is the pickiest eater on the planet. She does like cereal however. So, I tied the contest to a cereal giveaway. Mark and I picked the winner based on usefulness and delivery, but the answers were so good, I thought I’d share the top strategies below.

And the winner is…

Mom's Best Cereals Toasted Cinnamon SquaresChristina! Christina is a new mom to the toddler scene, and she’s doing this on her own. She is a successful woman and a foster mom, helping take care of babies and, in recent weeks, two toddlers. For this plus usefulness of her advice and particularly adroit use of the word “Wapow,” Mark and I choose her! Three boxes of cereal comin’ atcha, Christina.

Here is what she had to say:

1. Getting a toddler to eat Christina style: hide fruit and veggies in cookies and smoothies, have bbs make food their own with the help of colorful containers

I’ll admit it… I’ve only been a mom to two toddlers/preschoolers for two weeks. I’m a foster mom who is used to only taking babies. Then, to use your word, WAPOW!!! two kiddos needed a home, and fast. So here we are. With two that eat like birds and only seem to like juice, milk, fast food, and sweets. My advice so far….hide it in a smoothie (spinach, pumpkin, etc), hide it in a muffin/cookie (mashed apples and carrots in breakfast cookies this morning), serve it in fun dishes or containers (dips or syrup in a tiny Chinese tea cup alongside “food”), or just keep offering the things you want them to try alongside the things you know they’ll eat. I’ve gotten the 4yo to at least try most things, even if it’s the most microscopic, miniscule taste you’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’d love to hear what advice others have here!

My take:
Christina has some real challenges on her hand, with little ones who seems to have developed a taste for junk food and junk food alone. I have to hand it to her for her efforts to hide nutritious foods in sweeter yet nutritional foods like smoothies and muffins…and breakfast cookies. Brilliant! I also like the idea of fun containers. Dips are huge for Laila. If she can some how make the food her own – especially by adding things like sauce or cheese picked from cute little bowls – she tends to eat more.

2. How Laura gets her toddler to eat: Making faces with food

Play with food! Make faces using berries, grapes as eyes and nose, and slices of bright bell peppers as mouths. Cut healthy whole wheat sandwiches into bears or stars using cookie cutters. Use toothpicks as mini fruit and cheese skewers and have her call out each color as she puts them on the skewer (hand eye coordination and color recognition too!)

My take: This is such an excellent idea. I turned Laila’s ho-hum sandwich, salad and chips into a monster face using this advice. I cut circles out of the sandwich for the eyes and nose with the lid of a Pam container, used the chips for teeth on the plate and the lettuce for hair. Yes, this is how desperate mommies roll. Laura is an additional mom go-getter by going over colors with fruit and cheese skewers. Dang girl, dang!

3. Getting a toddler to eat Krista style: Eat it or the bear will

We have two picky eaters. My best tips: don’t make it a power struggle, pick your battles, and use ketchup. Oh, and sometimes we pretend there is a hungry bear at the door, and he is coming to eat the dinner if the kid doesn’t. This is complete with one of us knocking on the door and growling. That works, too!

My take: Again, the sauce. The secret is in the sauce! If Laila can dip she is just more likely to eat. Krista advises not to battle. I concur. If dinner is stretching on and Laila really just won’t eat much, then that’s that. We figure she’ll eat her eggs in the morning and maybe a little extra bacon. I have to laugh at the hungry bear game. Mark and I have pulled out ridiculous stops to get our daughter to eat. Along with Laura’s tip to make the food a face the other day, I had to then turn the face into an angry monster that did not want to be eaten, complete a Cookie Monster voice and angry food gestures peppered with impassioned pleas begging Laila not to eat the monster. Then she ate the monster. Like 1/8th of it, after all that.

I’m tired. So very very tired.

Congrats again Christina, and thanks for all the feedback everyone. In one way or another, each of you have made my life easier!



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