Picky Eaters, Part 6 – Engage Them!
Photo credit Stephanie @stephaniesfamilykitchen
So families, we’ve made it to the next tip for getting our picky eaters (and all kids) eating more veggies...
“Engage them” is another tip that may not require explanation but may require encouragement. We’re here for ya! There are lots of creative ways to get kids more veggie-engaged at mealtimes. Here are a few:
Let ‘em Pick!
We know that grocery shopping often goes faster when an adult (or the adults) go alone :) If you can take your big kid with you shopping every once in a while, lots of pediatricians recommend letting your kid explore the produce section and picking out a veggie to try that week. This exercise gives you a chance to talk about how to pick good produce, have a lesson on weight and play with the produce scale, and gives your kid a little buy-in at mealtime. It may even offer the whole family a chance to learn how to prepare something new!
Let ‘em Choose!
Anyone who has spent time with toddlers or young children knows that for them, choosing their own adventure is the name of the game. I learned from one of my dear mentors and teachers in pediatrics many years ago that one of the tricks to mastering the “toddler choice game” is giving them a choice between two things that are acceptable to you. For example, instead of the question being, “Do you want broccoli?” you may try the question, “Do you want broccoli or carrots?” Remember that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends one tablespoon of veggies for every year of age for toddlers and young children, so you don’t have to make an entire pot/pan of that other veggie to give your little one a serving.
Let ‘em Help!
EasyPeasie helps to expose the tongue and nose to veggie flavors. Even in barely detectable amounts, our brains are creating memory to those exposures. But remember that our ultimate goal is to get kids eating whole veggies. To do this, all possible senses must be engaged. So yes, kids must see and touch the veggies, hear what they sound like when you prepare them and when they chew them. Again – time permitting – let the kids get in there with you in the kitchen and help. Engage the senses and take the mystery out of those green things! Toddlers explore their foods instinctually (though messily), so let them engage in their own way as well. Toddlers are also reading your cues on whether a new food is “friend or foe,” so remember to “Eat it Too!” (Rule #1)
Good luck PeaPod! Engage them and explore veggies. It may end up being an adventure for the whole family. Enjoy!