Do you have a picky eater? Sometimes it’s about all a mom can handle to get a child to eat their lunch. My kids have gone through stages of pickiness during meals. My oldest loved eating everything as a baby; kalamata olives, goat cheese, spaghetti, artichoke, you name it. She’s become quite a bit more picky but still is often willing to try new foods. My little guy is all about meat and cheese which he eats almost every meal. When kids go through stages of picky eating, parents can use simple strategies to encourage their kids to eat healthy food. I’m excited to share some easy ways to make meals fun and healthy and sneak in some veggies too!
This post was developed in partnership with Similac. All opinions are my own.
1. Make Mealtime Fun
- Make smoothies! Easily mix up any smoothie combination with banana + yogurt + frozen berries + tangy fruits such as mango or pineapple + spinach leaves + ice!
- Make these cute strawberry roses.
- Turn lunch into a project with DIY mini pizzas.
- Make kitty and puppy kids’ lunch plates.
I like making meals fun. I’m not willing to craft separate meals for my kids, but I don’t mind making creative food I know they will love. Strawberry roses, sandwich shapes, and homemade macaroni and cheese are always big hits with the kiddos. My kids like eating their food on cute kids’ plates like this colorful Osho silicone placemat which is especially creative for crafting a child’s lunch. I like how this placemat allows me to create a food scene. My kids love eating their quesadillas and Veggie Straws from the cloud and sun-shaped cutouts. It’s also easy to toss in the dishwasher and clean once lunch is over.
This super cute placemat has an extra large design that makes any mess stay on the mat, so all you have to do is clean the placemat, not your table! It’s made with thick food grade silicone that’s BPA-free, PVC-free, and lead-free. The one-piece silicone placemat sticks to the table and eliminates the need for extra bowls and plates and it’s dishwasher and microwave safe making it super easy to warm and clean. My girls love taking turns having their lunch on this unique placemat. A fun lunch makes kids much more likely to eat their food!
2. Offer Easy Healthy Snacks
If your child gets hungry between meals, offer a simple and healthy snack that won’t interfere with their appetite later. Avoid sugar and high-carb snacks and instead whip up a healthy smoothie or offer your toddler one of these Go & Grow by Similac pouches filled with pureed fruits and veggies. Go & Grow by Similac pouches pack in flavors such as Sweet Potato, Apple, Mango, Pumpkin, Banana, and Carrot within an easy to enjoy blended puree. This drinkable snack is flavorful and will help little ones get nutrients from fruits and vegetables and be ready for their next activity. My kids also enjoy picking out their own flavors at the store. These pureed snack pouches are conveniently available at Walmart!
My little guy lacks no enthusiasm for snack time. I often offer him one of these flavorful snack pouches alongside the rest of his meal. It’s nice he can feed himself and eat at his own pace.
Go & Grow by Similac Pouches are the only toddler fruit and veggie puree pouches with OptiGRO to support brain and eye development. Go & Grow by Similac Pouches with OptiGRO are a convenient way to help toddlers enjoy more fruits & veggies during meals and snacktime. Each pouch has 3-4 servings of combined fruits and veggies, at least 1/3 the daily recommended servings for your toddler. You can purchase the pouches at Walmart in the baby food aisle.
Go & Grow by Similac Pouches Highlights
- Certified USDA Organic, contain no fillers, artificial flavors or colors and are gluten free.
- Available in two age groups for babies 6+ months and for toddlers 12+ months.
- Contain three to four servings of combined fruits and vegetables.
Pumpkin, Banana, Carrot Puree
Sweet Potato, Apple, Carrot Puree
Pear, Blueberry, Spinach Puree
Mango, Pear, Spinach Puree
Butternut Squash, Pumpkin, Banana, Carrot, Spinach, Broccoli Puree
Mango, Sweet Potato, Pear Puree
Mango, Apple, Butternut Squash, Spinach Puree
Apple, Butternut Squash, Banana, Blueberry Puree
Try any of these these food pouch flavors and receive $0.50 back on any one Go & Grow by Similac Pouch.
The Go & Grow toddler drink is another tasty mealtime addition, available in cans and powered stick form. We tried vanilla and this tasty drink is an easy way to sneak your toddlers some extra vitamins. It’s kinda like a vanilla milk shake!
Go & Grow Toddler Drink Highlights
- Just 1 serving of a Go & Grow toddler drink (mixing according to package directions) has the OptiGRO™ nutrients of DHA, lutein, Vitamin E for babies/toddlers to help support growth and development.
- Contains OptiGRO™—A unique brain- and eye-nourishing blend of DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E.
- Unflavored and Vanilla available in cans.
- Unflavored and Vanilla also available in stick packs.
3. Ask Your Child What They Like
I’ve started asking my kids what they’d like for dinner. Often the answer is a very reasonable request and me cooking something my 4-year-old daughter likes makes mealtime a lot more successful. Her mealtime favorites are pasta, chicken, and burritos.
My youngest little guy just goes with the flow and is happy eating whatever (for now). He has the biggest appetite and always appreciates a good snack!
4. Encourage Kids To Try New Foods
Even if a child isn’t super on board with a meal, encourage them to at least try it. They may be surprised they like it and trying new dishes can help kids learn to love adventurous foods. If a food isn’t successful, thank them for trying it and let them choose something else. I try to make an assortment of dinner sides I know everyone likes. Easy go-to kids’ foods include cheese quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked chicken fingers and spaghetti. I try to regularly make at least one thing I know my kids like, even if I make something else for the adults.
5. Finish With a Bedtime Snack
If the kids eat their dinner, they can also have a healthy snack before bedtime such as a cup of Greek yogurt, a peanut butter cracker, or fresh fruit. We don’t force the kids to clean their plates, but we often save leftover dinner for when they get hungry later.
Which mealtime tips have you found successful for your little picky eaters? Every family enjoys a different combination of personalities and preferences and it’s our job as moms to learn how to navigate each stage!
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Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.