Parenting

7 Sneaky Tricks for Turning Your Baby into a Foodie

toddler

At one point or another, every parent winds up encountering the dreaded mealtime battle. Children are notoriously picky eaters with a tendency to love something one day and turn up their noses at it the next. We all want our kids to eat a wide variety of healthy foods that taste delicious, but we can't force our little ones to eat something they don't want. What's a parent to do? 

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Time to get a little creative!

We're no longer living in a world where baby food only comes from a jar and moms are cool with making their toddlers mac 'n' cheese every night. It's the foodie era, baby! And there's no reason your baby can't be part of it — without the battle.

Here are seven ways you can help your baby or toddler become a mini foodie.

1. Don't serve their favorite meal over and over. Sure, there's something to be said about seeing your little one gobble up his or her meal without as much as a peep, but guess what? You're creating a picky-eating monster! If your child knows that you've always got her fave meal — which, let's be honest, is likely some sort of pasta — on the metaphorical back burner, she's more apt to push back (or push onto the floor) whatever else it is you're serving her. 

2. Meal plan together. Talking about the meals for the upcoming week, or, when they're older, mapping out the plan together, gets them excited. When you bring up the subject of what your family should eat that week, odds are you're going to hear the usuals: aforementioned pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets. But, you can then take things a step further by saying something like, "Great! What's something green we can have with this? And why don't we put lemon on our green food?"

3. Take them shopping. Whether you shop at your local farmers' market or at the grocery store down the street, your baby or toddler is more apt to get amped about mealtime when he's part of the process. Have your baby ride in the shopping cart and point out all the foods to him as you go. Let your toddler pick out whatever oranges, onions, and spices you need to make the meal. If he feels he's been a part of the decision, he's no doubt going to like to eat it more. 

4. Cook as a team. Pull up a stool and let your toddler help with the cooking. Stirring and seasoning is a dream come true for a little one (chopping too, but he may not be ready for that yet). It's extremely rare for a child to not want to eat — or at least taste — what the two of you made together.

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5. Don't force your kid to eat; ask him to taste. A surefire way to get your kid to have a negative association with a food is to force him to eat it. (Can you blame him?) If your child is showing reluctance to eat a certain food, ask him to at least taste it. And if that's even too much for him, ask that he smell it and maybe even describe the smell. Hey, it's something!

6. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Just because your toddler turns her nose up at the butternut squash soup you made once (or 10 times), that doesn't mean she'll do it again. Kids are fickle, remember? Continue to offer the food to your child, and who knows? She might turn around sooner than you think. 

7. Be a role model. If you're consistently eating French fries, that's what your child will want to eat, too. Instill positive eating habits by modeling the behavior you want your child to emulate. 

 

Image via iStock.com/Lise Gagne

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