A fun summer treat to make with kids.
It can be a little scary as a parent or caregiver to introduce a new food to a picky eater. The way you do it can make all the difference! One fun way is to talk about how different animals eat and have fun interacting with new foods. Download and use this visual to guide your interaction.
Here is a guide for using the visual:
In our last post, we talked about giving children choices about how to interact with foods to remove some of the pressure that comes with being asked to take a bite. Download the visual below to use with your children to help them make a choice!
“Please. Just take one bite. One little bite.”
How many times have you uttered those words? How many times were you met with a “No!”? The more you beg, the more your child refuses. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Taking a bite is actually a much bigger demand than we may realize. Imagine somebody sitting in front of you with a food that doesn’t look at all appetizing, begging you to just take a bite. You likely wouldn’t want to do it.
Here are two tips for what to do instead:
1. Offer choices about how to try a new food: Do you want to touch it or try a lick of it? This still gives your child control of the situation but also doesn’t allow for a “No!” answer.
Be specific with your choices. Instead of open ended questions (“what do you want to try?”) give two very specific choices (“Do you want to try the turkey or cheese next?”)
2. Don’t wait for a bite before you praise your child: It’s easy to get stuck on wanting to see your child take a bite and swallow food. However, this is a big ask and can bring a lot of pressure into mealtime. If you allow an easier interaction such as touching or smelling a new food, you’ll be able to reward your child doing something new and keep mealtime happy! In a future post, we’ll talk about how to work your way up to bites.
Here are some other examples of choices you can provide to give your child control while still encouraging interactions with food:
Children benefit from being involved in the mealtime process in various ways. Participating in grocery store trips is a great way to get your children involved in the process. Let's face it though, grocery store trips with children aren't always the most pleasant. Here's something to get them more involved while also keeping them busy so you can get your shopping done without added stress. Download this scavenger hunt and encourage your children to circle the foods they see. You can get creative and have them look for foods that are made out of the foods pictured, as well. For example, instead of just sticking to the produce section, have them look at pictures on juices and yogurts to look for the items on their list.
“Chew with your mouth closed.”
“Take a bite of broccoli.”
“Don’t spit that out!”
“Keep your bottom on the chair.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Use your fork.”
“Try it. I know you’ll like it”
“COME BACK TO THE TABLE!”
Does this sound familiar? This is a fairly common mealtime soundtrack, one that I catch myself falling back into regularly. The other thing I’ve noticed is that the more instructions I give, the less likely my children are to respond. When I try to take the perspective of my children, it’s no wonder they don’t want to be at mealtime.
This time that is supposed to be about nourishment and social interactions actually can feel pretty negative and not fun. It’s a constant conscious effort to change my own behavior at mealtimes, especially after an exhausting day. While it isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to tell you it is very much worth it. So, here are some ways to be more thoughtful about mealtime related instructions to improve the experience for everyone.
I’m going to challenge you to track the instructions you give at the next few mealtimes. Pay attention to your child’s responses. Then, try the above strategies and note the difference it makes for both you and your children. Is mealtime starting to feel more enjoyable and less stressful?
It’s all over Google and Pinterest: “Smart Ways to Sneak Vegetables in Your Child’s Food,” “Foolproof Ways to Sneak Veggies into Kids Food,” “100+ Hidden Veggie Recipes,” “15 Foods You Can Sneak Vegetables into.” Recipes are named for this practice: “Sneaky Pasta Sauce,” “Hidden Veggie Sloppy Joes,” “Hidden Veggie Smoothie.” There are even cookbooks devoted to successfully hiding vegetables in kid’s food. It’s one of the most common pieces of advice parents give each other when commiserating about picky eaters who refuse to eat vegetables. However, this common practice of sneaking foods is problematic. Here are three reasons why:
Instead of sneaking foods into your child’s food, here are some things you can do:
Try these tips to make trying healthy foods fun and enjoyable for both you and your child!
This edible play dough is so incredibly easy in the food processor! All you need is nuts (or an alternative if your child has allergies - that's my next step!), white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and food coloring.
Start by grinding the nuts (we used cashews) in the food processor to the desired consistency. I use this baby food processor because small amounts are less likely to get stuck on the sides.The nice thing is you can start out with a fine texture and work on increasing it gradually to work on textures with your child that might be sensitive. If you process it for a few minutes, it becomes a finer, sticky butter. We left it a little coarse to add some texture to our dough. At this point, we took some out to taste it and compare to a whole cashew.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and stir the melted chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and a couple drops of food coloring into the food processor. Process until the dough forms into a ball - about a minute. You can also finish by kneading it by hand. Then, the play possibilities are endless!
We pretended to make pancakes, used cookie cutters, rolled it into worms, and more! I buried strawberries and melon pieces in the dough and the children enjoyed digging through to find them and tasting it along the way. Here's the recipe:
1 cup of nuts (or alternative)
1 cup of white chocolate chips
1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 Tablespoon of honey
1. Process nuts in the food processor
2. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time, until melted.
3. Add melted chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, honey and a couple drops of food coloring into the food processor
4. Blend until the dough clumps together into a ball. You may want to take the ball out and knead it by hand a bit too.
This recipe does turn out to be fairly sweet. Using unsweetened dark chocolate is really good too, but the brown color just doesn't look as appealing to kids.
I'm excited to share this visual recipe download with you all! I wanted to come up with a way for my daughter to participate more in cooking and start teaching her about following recipes. I came up with this visual recipe and it was a huge hit! They were so stoked to follow the instructions with more independence. It's easy - 6 ingredients, 5 steps, under 10 minutes - and delicious! Substitute peanut butter with any alternative to avoid allergies. It's also gluten free! You can download the file below.
Here are some benefits of involving your children in the cooking process:
We started out by reading through the instructions to make sure they understood the sequence. Then, we did one step at a time. I helped them with reading, but was really surprised by how much they understood from the photos!
Of course, their favorite part was the taste testing and they definitely approved! Oh, and in case you are wondering, it absolutely is necessary to wear that hat during the cooking process!
Here is the download for you to use! I'd love your feedback as I'm hoping to make more of these in the future!
My daughter won't eat bell peppers and we cook with them a bit, so I wanted to start working on exposing her to them more. Today we did this fun project - mini bell pepper stamping with edible paint.
She likes mayo so we just added some food coloring to a little bit of mayo to make a few colors of paint. You could also use sour cream or just different condiments (ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, ranch, etc.). Then, I cut off the tops of the peppers, gave her some paper and she was set!
She loved making art - we talked about the different shapes and mixed colors to see what we could come up with. (We had a lot of, "Oh! Cool! Brown again!" But, hey, whatever works!)
As we were stamping, something really neat happened. Without me even suggesting it, my daughter said "I want to lick the red mayo off of it!" So, I cut up some rings of pepper and she dipped them in the different colors and licked the mayo. Then, she took little nibbles and realized that maybe she does like peppers with colorful mayo on them. She ended up eating a few of the peppers!
This is exactly the purpose of this kind of activity - a no pressure way to teach a child about ways to try new foods!