Here’s a familiar dinner scene: there’s a child throwing a temper tantrum and peas are everywhere, and that’s just if you’ve managed to keep it together yourself. That adorable baby who would eat anything you put in front of them has become a toddler with an opinion. So what’s a parent to do? Plead? Beg? Bribe?
The good news is that this is very normal behavior for a toddler, and there are 2 main reasons your child is acting like this at mealtime. The first reason is that their tastes have likely changed, and they may very legitimately not like the same vegetables they used to get so excited over. And second, saying “no” is a very healthy way for a toddler to assert some control.
The bad news is, even if you’re the best parent on the planet, this mealtime battle is likely to continue for a long time. But here are some tips to help get your child to try some new foods and help keep them properly nourished…
Kids are notoriously fickle about their tastes. So, just keep putting vegetables on their plate. It’s amazing how one day they will reject green beans, but then the next day they will eat them by the fistful.
Try new foods
For the same reason that a toddler’s tastes are constantly changing, they have no idea what they will or won’t like (and frankly neither to you). Instill a habit of trying new foods. You could make a politeness taste rule where they have to have a taste of everything on their plate. They don’t have to eat it, but you might both be surprised by what they actually do end up eating. It can take up to trying something 10 times before they will like it.
Blend or hide the vegetables
Sometimes you just have to go the sneaky route. If your toddler will only eat meatballs, puree some carrots and a zucchini in them. Or, instead of regular pancakes, make sweet potato pancakes. Veggies can be hidden in just about anything.
Grow a garden
It’s amazing how a kid who won’t eat veggies at dinner might just pick a piece of fruit or a vegetable off a plant and eat it. Also, just getting a kid involved in the process of planting, picking, and making food can encourage them to eat.
Use playtime to reinforce healthy eating
Ask your child to serve you healthy meals at playtime. This can be encouraged with New Sprouts® Healthy Baskets, which are designed to build healthy eating habits.
Discovering and trying new foods is going to be an adventure for you both. It won’t always be easy, but instilling good eating habits now will bear great fruit down the road.