It seems to be an age-old question: how can I get my children to eat certain foods? I have a variety of eaters in my house. I have one who will eat almost anything I put in front of them, without complaining. I have another who picks and picks and picks at their food. Of course to add to the variety, I have one who likes some things but not others. It seems to change on the day.
So how can a mom know what to prepare? Should we make a variety of food to please each member of the family?
I think not. :-)
Here are some tips to help you get even the pickiest children to eat what is put in front of them.
Make one meal and expect them to eat it
It’s one of those non-negotiable things at our house. It’s like making our children buckle up in the car. They will wear their seat belt. They will eat what is in front of them. We, as moms, are very busy. Making multiple meals for one suppertime is not something we need to add to our long list of must do’s. From the time they were little, they knew (with a few exceptions, see below) to eat what was on their plate.
Try to give a little grace and let them not like one thing
I do not like bananas. Oh, they are so gross. The flavor, the texture…I wish I liked them. I tried to like them. I just cannot. Not even in a fruit salad. Because of my dislike of bananas, I let my children not eat one food item. For example, one of my children does not like eggs. It wasn’t something he woke up one day, sat at the table and proclaimed. From the moment I gave him eggs as a baby, he didn’t like them. He would spit them out, cringe and cry. When the rest of us are having pancakes and eggs, I don’t make him have the eggs. That is his one food grace. He appreciates not having to eat them.
Always try to have something on their plate they like
If I know I am making something one of my children isn’t fond of, I will have something on their plate they really like. For example, the other day we had ham and beans. One of my children really doesn’t care for it. I made sure I had grapes on the table so he would have something healthy he liked. We still expected him to eat the ham and beans but he had something else to eat he enjoyed. A balance, I guess.
Don’t put a lot of food on their plate
When I put the above mentioned ham and beans on his plate, I only put a very little portion. Seriously, it was probably 3 bites. I didn’t give him a large portion so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed. It is bad enough to have to eat something he would rather not. I don’t want to discourage him even before he got started. This way, our expectations are doable. It isn’t an impossible mountain for him to climb.
Try the three bite rule
I have a friend who says this works. Whatever she puts on her children’s plates, they must eat three bites of it. After that, they can be done. She has done that method since they were old enough to understand. She tells me they eat almost anything now. There isn’t a lot of pressure because it is only three bites, but they try new foods. I have never tried this and it sounds like a good method.
I know it is hard when your children are picky eaters. My pickiest eater has learned to eat a variety of food because of our table rules. This child NEVER liked taco soup. I kept encouraging them try it and now she not only cheers when we have it, she asks for seconds. Try not to make the table a battleground. Calmly hold your ground. It will pay off when your children eat a variety of foods.
What are your family rules for mealtime? Do you have a picky eater in your house?