How to Get Kids to Finish Their Meals

Photo by Carlo Mendoza

Can’t get the kids to gobble up their veggies? Here are some family-tested tricks from readers and CF staff on how to outsmart the picky eater in your household:

“I give my three-year-old son a veggie cup before supper. After we get home from work and daycare, I steam some frozen peas, carrots and corn and serve them in a little bowl. I know he is hungry from a busy day at daycare, so he will eat the veggies, whereas if I waited until supper he will eat everything but the veggies. Plus, I think he likes using his fingers to fish out the vegetables.”
– BONNIE SIMPSON, MOM OF IAN, 3, SASKATOON, SASK.

“I find the best way to get Kayla to eat a wide variety of foods is to make them fun.
Cute shapes always work, but what works even better for us is having a dipping
sauce. If she can dip it, she’ll eat it. Her favourite dip is a bowl full of plain yogurt
with dill and a bit of lemon juice. It tastes great with everything and to be honest,
if all she ends up eating is the bowl full of healthy yogurt, I’m a happy mom!”
– TRACY POULIN, MOM OF KAYLA, 2, OAKVILLE, ONT.

“Some children do not like the words adults use for food. They may not completely
understand what it is or where it comes from, or they may come up with their own
negative images of that food based on what the name implies. So, we come up with creative names for things; if my five-year-old
won’t try tomato sauce, sometimes it’s ‘Sasha Sauce,’ named for one of her friends, or ‘Einstein’s Crackers’ named for a TV show.”
– SUZANNE TINNING, MOM OF OWEN 8, MIRANDA, 5, AND DREW, 3, CALGARY

Senior editor Robin makes Kooky Happy Faces with her 5-year-old Charlotte. Scrambled eggs are hair, cheese is eye brows, tomatoes are eyes, broccoli is the nose and grapes are the teeth in a yogurt-smear smile.

Editor-in-chief Jen convinces 5-year-old James to eat different types of lettuce by turning it into a game: with eyes closed, he has to guess the colour of the lettuce based on the taste.

And when 3-year-old Jack comes up against something he doesn’t want to eat, his dad, executive producer Chris, simply tells him it’s chicken (which Jack loves). It really works!

If all else fails, why not sneak in the healthy stuff with this collection of tricky (and tasty) recipes?

Have a trick that works for you? Share it in the comments below!

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