Make Mealtime Fun for Your Picky Eater

Photography: Fran Jorgensen |

By Elizabeth Pantley

When you have a picky eater in the house it can turn every meal into a battle. Lightening up the mood and getting creative 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.

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.

Try shapes.

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.

Fun platters.

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.

Get artistic!

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.

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