Is mealtime a constant struggle with your toddler? Does your child seem to leave a lot of food on the plate? Do you have a picky eater, like I do? Then it’s time to break out some clever hacks. Not only do these hacks make kids more interested in eating, but some of them even help take the mess out of mealtime.
1. Use Plates with Compartments
If your toddler can’t stand for his food to touch each other, using a plate that has compartments is a simple fix. The trick is to make sure you don’t overfill the compartments. That way, when your child grabs something out of one compartment, other pieces of food don’t spill over into other compartments. Bento boxes with compartments are a great alternative to plates with compartments but can be harder to find.
2. Cut Food Into Fun Shapes
Sandwich? Boring. Slices of fruit? Boring. Dinosaurs filled with bologna and cheese? Yay. Believe it or not, the simple act of cutting foods into shapes can make a big difference. You can even use metal cookie cutters to fry eggs or pancakes that are shaped.
3. Change the Setting
Sometimes all you need to do to make mealtime more fun is to change the setting. Instead of eating indoors, move out to the patio. You could also pack a picnic for a fun lunch in the park or at the playground.
4. Make It Bite-Sized
Another simple trick is to cut food into bite-sized pieces. Kids prefer to eat foods with their hands so why fight it? You can use a pizza wheel to cut a variety of flat foods into bite-sized pieces. Kitchen shears are also great. For larger items, use a chef’s knife.
5. Contain the Jelly in PB&J Sandwiches
If your child loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you may have a laundry load of clothes covered in jelly. Instead of doing a layer of peanut butter and a layer of jelly, use the peanut butter to create a border on each piece of bread. Pour a small amount of jelly in the middle of one piece and close the sandwich. When your child picks up the sandwich, the jelly won’t fall out.
6. Serve Meals in Ice Cube Trays
Food is much more appealing when it’s colorful and fun. Take small foods and place them in ice cube trays. For example, one portion might have cheese cubes and another may have peas and another may have dried cherries. Make it colorful and fun to eat.
7. Add a Side of Veggie Fries
Last, but not least, if your child loves fries, roast up some sweet potato or turnip fries. A lot of hard, starchy vegetables can be cut into fries and baked. It’s a great way to trick your toddler into trying new vegetables.
Mealtime doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are easy things you can do to make sure your child enjoys eating.