There’s nothing you can do to guarantee that your child won’t become a picky eater, but these tips from real moms can help you expand your toddler’s tastes, so he’ll easily get all the nutrients he needs. 

Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

“Variety is the trick when it comes to sandwiches. Try cutting them in different shapes, sometimes in strips, sometimes on the diagonal, sometimes in diamonds or little squares.” —Sharon M.

“We call broccoli ‘trees’ and spaghetti ‘worms’ and matchstick carrots ‘logs.’ For some reason, this makes them much more interesting to my son!” —Jennifer S.

“If Mattias can dip it, he will eat it! We offer him cheese dips, hummus, yogurt, pesto, applesauce, tomato sauce. It’s messy, but it’s nutritious, so why not?” —Mary Jo L.

“Try to get out of your comfort zone and prepare a wide range of ethnic meals. Sometimes we’ll do a stir-fry or cook up a curry, for example. Or we’ll pick a restaurant based on whether it’s a kind of food Ethan has eaten before and go to a place that’s new to him. He’s still young enough that he’s open to different tastes because everything is new. I’m hoping this strategy will keep him from being a picky eater.” —Shellie B.

Sitting With the Grown-ups

“We started to put my son in a booster seat on a regular kitchen chair soon after his second birthday. That way he’s right in the middle of the action and seems to pay better attention to his meal.” —Isidra F.

Vegetables Incognito

“I make muffins with whole wheat flour and olive oil, then add all kinds of different fruits or grated vegetables to them. Sometimes I even add small chocolate chips. It’s not that much chocolate, but it gives them a special little zing, particularly with zucchini, pumpkin, or bananas. They’re an easy snack to bake and a great way to get more fruits and veggies into your child.” —Stephanie T.

“Lightly steamed vegetables tend to be less bitter than overcooked ones. When I was growing up in the South, all vegetables were cooked to the same mushy state. No wonder I didn’t like them!” —Susan L.

Saying No to Fast Foods

“If you don’t get your child started on fast food restaurants, he’ll never know what he’s missing—at least until he gets a little older and friends start talking about it. The truth is, fast food places aren’t even that fast. Honestly, I can make a turkey sandwich and some carrot sticks in as much time as it takes to use a drive-through, and home cooking is much cheaper and healthier.” —Stacy H.