Every parent wants their child to eat a healthy diet, but when the closest thing to fruit your toddler will touch is a pack of fruit snacks, you may find yourself wondering how you can incorporate nutritious foods into his meal plan.
Even infants who gobbled up every jar of vegetables can develop into picky toddlers. This is often a result of wanting more control in general, and having tried a larger variety of foods that just taste better. Just because he says no to a certain food once, though, that doesn’t mean you need to take it off the menu forever. Toddlers can turn on a dime, and a picky tot one day could be tomorrow’s connoisseur. Here are some tips for reintroducing foods Baby once enjoyed without the mealtime battle.
- Put it out first: If Baby once loved vegetables, but is now all about potatoes in fried form, you’re probably trying to figure out how to get the good stuff back into his diet. Instead of offering them alongside something you know he will eat, try putting it on his plate before the main course. A tossed salad might not appeal to Baby, but he may be tempted to pick out a few cucumbers or tomatoes to nibble on if that’s his only option on the table to start out with.
- Make it exciting: Let’s face it: steamed veggies can be a little boring. Liven up dull foods with a little something extra, like a bit of butter on the broccoli, or a side of ranch dressing alongside raw carrots. If you’re feeling super motivated, try making a “rainbow” of fruit or vegetables on the plate to make it look more appealing.
- Take the pressure away: Many parents will try very hard to coerce their toddler into taking “just one bite” of a food. Another common tactic is to tell the child they must try a piece if they want to do something later, like watch television. These strategies may work in the moment, but don’t solve the long-term problem of reintroducing a food for Baby to eat regularly. Instead, don’t make a fuss about what is in front of him, and let him explore on his own.
- Keep trying: More often than not, it will take repeated exposure to a food before Baby accepts it, so don’t give up too soon. Keep putting healthy food on the table, and don’t get discouraged if he doesn’t take to it right away. It can take a toddler 10 or more exposures to a food before he gives it a try, which could take several months, depending on how often it is served.
The truth is, Baby will have his preferences, and there will be some foods he just doesn’t care for, despite your approach and persistence. This is normal, and a food he truly dislikes shouldn’t be forced. As long as he is continuing to try new foods with the methods above, it’s fine to let the strawberries go for now. They’re not everyone’s jam.