This blog post has been written in partnership with Happy Family Organics but all opinions are my own.
One of the most rewarding moments for any parent is to watch their child enthusiastically enjoy a tasty, well-balanced meal.
It can be incredibly disheartening, however, when a child refuses to eat, especially if this behavior continues for days and even months!
I don’t like to categorize any toddler or kid as a ‘picky eater’ per se but the truth is that if you have a kid, you’ve likely experienced a picky eating phase.
Some toddlers and kids can stay in this challenging period for a longer time because of sensory or motor challenges, which may benefit from professional intervention and a truckload of patience. Others snap out of it more quickly.
Regardless of why your little one is going through it, here are 3 simple tips to navigate a picky eating phase that have worked for my kids and that I hope will help yours.
1) Make food shopping simpler.
When navigating a picky eating phase, it’s tempting to overcomplicate things and try too many new recipes or strategies at once but I like to remind myself and others to go back to the basics.
Buy foods that you enjoy as a family because your kids will eventually come around to embracing what they see YOU enjoying. This may not happen overnight but a sure shot way to get kids to welcome new flavors is to allow them to witness your love for those same foods.
Get kids involved in the shopping of food whether it’s taking them to the grocery store and chatting with them about the foods you’re purchasing or whether it’s making an exciting trip to the farmers’ market and letting them pick a few veggies (even if you know they may not eat them on the first try!). Every exposure to a new food is helpful even if it’s just a visual exposure at the store.
Get smart and have a few nutritious, kid-approved options on hand like Happy Family Organics veggie and fruit pouches that both my kids have loved and enjoyed even during the pickiest of phases and that make me feel good about getting some goodness into their little bodies.
2) Add new foods to dishes your child already likes.
Kids in a picky phase can be skeptical of new foods so adding nutritious ingredients to familiar foods can help.
I love adding grated veggies to pasta Bolognese, frozen cauliflower to smoothies, fruit and veggies into muffins and Happy Family Organics Superfood pouches to my kids’ favorite oat, banana, cinnamon pancakes. Instead of being sneaky about these additions, I recommend being playful and letting your little ones know what new and surprising ingredients are in their favorite dish. So you could say something like, “You’ll never guess the secret ingredient I added to your pancakes today!” ☺
3) Prepare batch food for multiple uses.
A great hack for managing a picky eating phase is to make a dish your kid loves and serve it in slightly different variations to keep things new yet comfortably reassuring.
For instance, my kids have always loved veggie loaded Five Spice Meatballs so I will batch prep them and serve them in a few different ways like in a frittata muffin, crumbled into quesadillas or in a hearty broth with veg and noodles.
Picky eating phases can feel frustrating but with a little creativity, innovative and delicious products like Happy Family Organics pouches and a reminder to oneself that adventurous eating is a journey with occasional bumps in the road, one can relax a little and let things flow through this sometimes challenging and incredibly rewarding life as parents.