The Plague of the Picky Toddler

The Plague of the Picky Toddler

How to Get Them to Eat

Toddlers are all different.  Some will eat anything you put in front of them, while others refuse to go near anything new.  My 3 year old is the pickiest eater I have ever met.  She only likes a handful of fruits and will not eat vegetables at all (except at school they tell me she eats carrots).  She is also not a big meat eater, which is tough because she needs her protein. Everyday is a struggle, but I make sure she gets her nutrients through Pediasure and vitamins.  I know I am not alone with this problem.  I am told this is fairly common with toddlers and young children. After all, I was a very picky eater as a kid and I still am, to an extent.  At her 3 year well check-up, I discussed her lack of wanting to eat anything healthy or new with her pediatrician.  Below, I have listed her suggestions, as well as one of my own that you may find helpful if you are dealing with a similar situation.

  1. Make vegetables fun.  Let's face it, vegetables are totally unappealing to kids.  I think they are programmed to believe they should not like them.  My pediatrician recommended making them fun to eat.  One vegetable recipe that is a winner is Ants on a Log.  This is made with celery, peanut butter and raisins and satisfies the need for fruit, vegetables and protein.  To make Ants on a Log, simply take a piece of celery and slab some peanut butter on it.  Next, sprinkle some raisins on top and it looks appealing to a child. 
  2. Cut food into shapes.  This is something my daughter gravitated to right away since she loves shapes.  Her favorite shape is a triangle, so making her a peanut better and jelly sandwich (any other sandwich works too) and cutting it into triangles encouraged her to at least try it.  Once she tried it, she realized she liked it.  Kids go through phases, so once they get tired of that shape, figure their new favorite.  This also works by using special cookie and sandwich cutters that come in a variety of designs and shapes (animals, cartoon characters, etc.). 
  3. Give healthy kid friendly snacks.  Granola bars and cereal bars are a great idea here.  My daughter loves both.  They provide her nutrients that she needs without overdoing calories.  This is a far better idea than unhealthy snacks, such as potato chips or candy.  Of course, if your kid is a fans or fruits and vegetables, continue giving them fruits and vegetables, but other snacks, such as the above are a wonderful change of pace.
  4. When in doubt, juice it.  This is my suggestion.  I get overly concerned about my daughter not eating veggies, so I got a juicer.  Not only do I love making healthy, fresh juice that benefits everyone's well being, but it is a sneaky way to get my daughter to get her veggies in.  If you mix them with fruit, you still get a taste that is sure to satisfy a kid.  For example, apple carrot juice is easy and full of necessary nutrients.  There are tons of recipes out there on the Internet which are delicious and kid friendly.

The bottom line is, children for the most part, eventually grow out of such picky behavior.  Rest assured, one day they will enjoy fruits, vegetables and a variety of meats.  All you can do is the best you can in your situation. 

Are there any ideas that I have missed?  How do you get your picky child to eat different foods?