5 Common Kids’ Eating Dilemmas: Solved
Bon appétite, baby!
Do you find yourself fantasizing about serving your kids homemade avocado handrolls and layered organic tacos in mason jars, all while loading your grocery cart with frozen dino-shaped chicken nuggets? We are here to bridge the gap. Recipes will help. But so will a little behavior modification. Here, the five most common kid-eating problems, and how to solve them.
Problem: MY KID WILL ONLY EAT ONE THING
Some kids carbo-load like they’re training for a marathon: mac n cheese, bread, plain pasta and, well, that’s it. But keep placing healthy options on their plate. When it comes to trying new foods, exposure and parental enthusiasm are key. Experts insist that the more familiar a child becomes with a food, even simply by seeing it around, the more likely she is to taste it…eventually. And make sure you act excited when you sample those roasted Brussels sprouts. There can be no monkey do without monkey see.
PROBLEM: MY KID WON’T TOUCH ANYTHING HEALTHY
Some parents struggle to get anything that grows from the ground or on a tree past their children’s lips. Cartoon-branded pureed fruit pouches? Those will be inhaled. But an actual strawberry? Never. Try reframing the conversation around what foods can do for your kids, not how they taste or look (after all, how is a tomato supposed to compete with Elmo?). Grilled chicken will make them superhero strong so they can jump higher. Carrots will give them night vision. You get the idea.
Problem: My kid changes his mind daily about what he loves—and what he loathes.
If you jumped for joy when your toddler discovered turkey meatballs, then wept when he decided he hated them, you are not alone. Nor do you have a “finicky” eater. Don’t give up. Just try taking the desired food out of rotation for a few weeks, then reintroduce it at a time when he's legitimately hungry—like after a nap or at the end of an afternoon when he hasn't been snacking.
Problem: My kid eats the same meal. Every. Single. Day.
Maxed-out parents often fall into a trap: They fail to provide variety because well, the kid’s gotta eat, and at least they know this plate of nuggets is a sure thing. But there are ways to introduce new foods slowly and subtly. Use the 1 to 3 ratio: A plate should have two tried-and-true favorites and one new option. You can also try a variation on a theme. If your kid is obsessed with French fries, swap in sweet potato fries instead. Then, down the road, move on to pureed yams.
Problem: My kid is “done” after three bites.
Small meal? No big deal. The more relaxed you are about food, the more likely your kids are to have positive associations with the dinner table—and that’s the real goal. They will self-regulate. And it takes less to fill their tummies than we often realize. Adjust portion size—and expectations—accordingly.