When your child turns 3, being creative at mealtimes really starts to pay off. Here, real moms offer their insights, tips, and techniques for making meals fun while serving healthful foods that kids will eat right up.
Keep It Interesting
“If I strike out with something like broccoli, I don’t give up. I just keep trying to serve it in different ways: cut differently, chopped up and mixed with pasta, pureed, or made into a soufflé. You have to be persistent and not give up too easily on a particular taste.” —Joannie S.
“I draw faces with yogurt on top of pancakes. Using dots for eyes and a line for the mouth adds a little sweetness and a whole lot more fun!” —Maria G.
“To make plain water taste more interesting, I add sliced oranges, lemons, or limes. I put a little slice right in the sippy cup along with ice and then put the lid on it. It’s not as sweet as juice, and it’s definitely healthier.” —Joanne P.
Focused on Feeding
“Whenever my daughter needs a snack, I serve it at the table instead of letting her run around the house with it or sit in front of the TV. I want her to connect eating with sitting and focusing on the food. Sometimes I’ll sit and have a snack with her.” —Andrea L.
Involving Your Child
“I regularly take my little guy to a farmer’s market. There are lots of yummy-looking foods to see, and some farmers give out samples. This helps him see that people eat real food and get excited about it.” —Tina W.
“Even at her age, I try to find ways to involve Ava in preparing meals. She might tear the lettuce, for example, or add croutons on top of a salad. I’ve noticed that the things she contributes to the meal are the things she eats most readily.” —Emmy T.
“Once when I was out of peanut butter, I decided to offer an almond butter sandwich instead. It was such a big hit that I bought a grinder to make my own nut butters. They’re fresh and provide nice variety. Sometimes I even mix two kinds together.” —Selena F.
“My son gets one cup of juice at his afternoon snack, but that’s it. This way it seems like a treat instead of something he can ask for whenever he’s thirsty. At this point, he has linked it in his head to snack time.” — Asha B.
“One way to cut down on juice is to dilute it. I’ve always served half water, half juice, and my son doesn’t know the difference.” —Valerie B.