Tips for Kiddo Mealtimes — The Nutrition Mechanic

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One of the biggest complaints I hear among parents of little kiddos is getting them to eat enough during mealtime. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and hope that the tips below help to make things a bit easier for the whole family. 

First, there are many tips to help mitigate the pickiness of your children, but before you embark on making these changes, realize that it can take time and patience is a virtue. It is important to focus on your child’s nutrition from the whole week rather than on the day, which can help make this experience less stressful. It also is recommended to seek support. Again, you are not alone and there are plenty of parents who are seeking support, and can offer support for you! 

  1. Stick to a Routine.

    This means offering meals and snacks at the same time every day or as close to that as you possibly can. Kiddos thrive when it comes to a routine and this also helps their brain understand a pattern to better adjust to hunger and fullness. Additionally, when it comes to the meals (or even the snacks too), parents or caretakers should try to eat the same (or similar) thing. Remember, you are not your child’s personal chef and everyone should eat what was made for that meal. Of course, there are exceptions to this and not every day will be perfect, but it’s important to be as consistent as possible. 

  2.  Follow the Rules.

    The key here is to be patient. It can take up to 20 times for a child to try a new food and decide if they like it. My advice is to offer it at least 10 times and feel free to offer it prepared in different ways. Second, aim for no distractions at meal time. This means no phones, TV, etc. for the child nor the parents or caretakers. It helps to keep everyone focused on the fact that it is time to eat. Lastly, try not to give sweets or dessert as a reward. We know this is a hard one, but by offering dessert as a reward for eating fruits and vegetables, for example, you’re sending the message that dessert is the best food and everything else is subpar. Instead, try something a little bit more healthy after meals like fruit and yogurt or offering dessert only once or twice a week.

  3. Make it Fun!

    Eating can be a fun experience for all of those involved. Try and have your child help with food prep to create autonomy and make them proud of the meal they made. This will also make them more likely to eat the food too. If you are able, try growing herbs or other food in your garden to show the child where food comes from. Lastly, make creative plates. You can have fun by surprising your child with a plate full of healthy food that is shaped as a smiley face or a fun animal!

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