How to Dad: Getting Your Toddler to Eat
Think back to when you were a child. Think of all of the things your parents tried to do to get you to eat your food. Did any of it work for you?
Today, I find myself saying the same things and having the same success as my parents did with me. My two-year-old son is my clone and he would rather play than eat his food.
If you are struggling to get your child to eat, here are a few helpful tips.
No. 1: Get the sauceNo matter what we are eating, my son wants to dip his food in everything. Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter what it is, he just wants to dip it. Most recently, we were eating chicken and, for whatever reason, he wanted to dip his chicken in grape jelly. I let him try it out and he ate way more of his chicken than he normally does. I don’t know if this makes him some sort of culinary prodigy, but at least he ate his food! He also likes to dip his food in ketchup or barbecue sauce, so anything works. Or try all of the sauces at once in a plate like the Boon Platter Plate.
No. 2: Make a game out of itLike all kids, my son loves to play games. When it comes to eating his food, I want to challenge him and get him to eat his food. Near our kitchen, we have a small basketball hoop. I will tell him that every shot I make is a bite of food. It’s really easy for me to make the shot and he ends up eating most of his food. I will let him shoot too so that he gets enjoyment out of our little game as well.
No. 3: Give a RewardEvery Sunday night, we have dinner at my parent's house. My mom will usually make a cake or have some sort of delicious treat waiting for after dinner. My son knows this and he always talks about the cake and how much he wants the cake. If he is not eating enough of his food, I will tell him the cake is his reward for eating his food. I avoid saying he can't have cake if he doesn't finish his food because saying he will get cake is more positive. Just last week he wasn’t eating like we wanted him to and we told him he could have some cake if he ate better. The next time I looked at his plate, the food was gone and he had his mouth open to show me he ate his food.
No. 4: Relate it to something they loveI remember my grandpa always telling me to eat my potatoes because it would give me hair on my chest. I try to do something similar. Because my son loves superheroes, I will tell him things about them in hopes he will eat his food. I will say things like "the Hulk is strong because he eats his chicken," or "Spiderman is so fast because he eats his veggies" or, my favorite, "Daddy is so handsome because he eats all his food." After these statements, I will follow it up with a question asking him if he wants to be like the person that I mentioned. He usually says yes and then I tell him he needs to eat his food in order to be like them.
No. 5: Be Patient
As parents, kids will always test our patience, making parenting challenging, yet rewarding. If you are patient with them, most likely they will do the things that you want them to.