Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to Handle Mealtime Malaise

You sit down for dinner.  You place your toddler's favorite plate with portions of five different foods in front of her.  Then comes:  "I don't like any of this!  I never liked any of this!"

Forget that she's eaten three of those five items within the past 24 hours, without incident.  Right now, she hates all this stuff.

What do you do?  Here are six suggestions that have hit more than missed at our table.  Maybe they'll work at yours:

1.  Prepare the same stuff a different way.
I've cut up an apple dozens of different ways:  with skin, without skin, square chunks, thin sticks, slices with jagged edges, you name it.  My 4-year-old daughter's consistent favorite?  "Daddy's thinnest apple slices ever!" -- they work every time.

2.  Let your child help make the meal.
This one works when our daughter isn't tired.  She loves to help prepare food, whether it's just for her or for the whole family.

3.  Act like a clown.
I can't even describe to you how much of a fool I've made of myself, in order to distract my daughter or son from the task at hand.  One thing this method will always accomplish is remind you that you'll go to unreasonable lengths to solve a kid problem.

4.  Offer up whatever's on hand in the kitchen as a distraction.
This one's in the same camp as #3, but is for a younger child.  Here's some stuff that works for our 19-month-old son:  small metal measuring cups, cookie cutters, and his older sister's princess utensils (assuming she's not around).  He immediately plays with these objects, then starts munching away at whatever's in front of him.

5.  It's all in the delivery.
I discovered this on my own, then saw it recommended by others.  For our 4-year-old, I'll suggest a weird way to eat something, like munching on lettuce like she's a rabbit, or first eating the outside edge of a ravioli, then the middle.  It's even easier for the 19-month-old.  I'll lay down an undulating row of blueberries, or stack four to five pieces of fiori pasta on top of each other.  He looks at the weird food pattern, then at me, and then starts chowing down.

Do you have any good tricks for getting your fussy child to eat?

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