When you have a picky eater in the house it can turn every meal into a battle. Brightening up the mood and getting creative with food are great ways to take the stress out of mealtime and bring more joy to your table, while getting your little one to eat. Try a few of these suggestions.
12 Easy Ways to Make Food Fun
Give food a crazy name.
You can come up with a name for just about any food. Funny names get the best results, such as calling melon balls Pixie Basketballs or kidney beans Dinosaur Eggs. Adding your child’s name to any food or meal gives him a reason to try it and love it. Experiment with names like: Sloppy Joans, Ben’s Belly-icious Beans or Lillian-burgers. Or name food after a favorite cartoon character.
Make it talk!
A great way to get younger children engaged is to have the food actually “talk” to him. The spaghetti can call your child to the table. The beans can “ask” to climb into his mouth and visit his tummy.
Use cookie cutters or a knife to make fun shapes out of sandwiches, pancakes, and cheese. Triangles, strips, circles, or funny shaped bits can be more fun than a plain old square.
Use anything other than a kitchen plate. It’s easy to use containers, toy dishes, an ice cube tray, or a muffin tin as dishes.
Instead of neat piles on the plate make designs or separate the peas all over the place. Kids find a fun disarray more appealing.
Make it colorful.
Use food coloring to create pink mashed potatoes or purple mashed cauliflower, or add color to water when boiling pasta. Your child can participate by choosing the colors or adding the drops. Foods create color, too – add blueberries to oatmeal or strawberries to yogurt for more color.
Get them involved.
Get out the craft supplies and help your kids design and make their own placements, a table centerpiece, or napkin holders. Make it a monthly routine, perhaps decorating the table for each holiday.
Purchase a dinner plate set decorated with your child’s current favorite TV or movie character. Or take them to the store and let them choose their own dishes, even if they don’t match your set.
Get creative with presentation.
Your child’s plate doesn’t always have to look the same – with a pile of each different type of food neatly arranged. You can string beans or noodles around the edge of the plate. Try alternating veggies, meat and grain in mini-piles or stripes all over the plate, or combine them to make a design. Get creative when you’re dishing out the next meal and see what happens!
Make an irresistible plate.
Combine fun names and interesting presentations to make a meal irresistible. Stand up broccoli pieces in a bed of mashed potatoes and sprinkle on bits of meat to make an edible treat: “Dinner Forestville.”
Try something different.
Try an unusual configuration of a usual food. Instead of spaghetti with meatballs serve one mega-meatball or lots of mini-meatballs. Cut a carrot in a very long, skinny strip from one end of the carrot to the other, and instead of apple pieces make long spirals using a potato peeler.
Let them dip it.
Kids love foods they can pick up by hand and dip – so anything that comes with a sauce can be served separately with the sauce in a bowl. Fruit in mashed cottage cheese or yogurt, apples in peanut butter, veggies in ranch dressing, or chicken pieces or beef cubes in marinara sauce are all fun to eat.
When you make mealtime more fun your picky eater just might become a lot less picky!
Need more tips? The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution is your resource for gentle ways to encourage your child to eat – and eat healthy!