When my oldest son was a baby I was crazy particular about what I fed him. I gave him a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday and he ate just about everything I gave him. He tried new foods without hesitation and ate a nice diet full of variety. I smugly thought it was my own impeccable parenting skills. Yeah, right.
My second son was born just seventeen months after my first and I could tell from the start he was not going to be the same as his brother. He NEVER took a bottle, refused formula, juice, and all pureed baby foods. In fact, he didn’t eat a bite of anything until he was big enough to start soft chewable foods. When I actually did get him to eat he refused most foods. He would not eat any meat whatsoever. Fruit, cheese, and black beans were his staples. As he got older he started eating cereal bars like it was his job. I asked the doctors about his diet but no one was concerned because he was growing well so I made myself feel better by adding in some fortified foods and vitamins.
Fast forward a few years and I now have three boys-ages 6, 4, and 1. My oldest stopped his oh-so-easy eating habit the moment he turned four. Now I have to bribe him to eat any fruit at all and broccoli is the only vegetable to cross his lips. My middle son finally started to eat meat occasionally although it’s not often, and my youngest is proving to be a pretty healthy eater so far although a bit particular. Finding meals that are healthy that all three of them will eat is hard, and getting them to eat well-rounded meals is harder still. I take a three pronged approach to getting the kids to eat healthy: being sneaky, making it fun, and flat-out bribery!!
Being Sneaky: I am the queen of sneaking healthy foods into my kid’s meals…whether it’s making them feel like wheat germ and flax seed on their yogurt is a special treat (by calling it sprinkles!) or adding a bit of pureed squash to their mac and cheese or quesadillas, every little bit helps!
Making it Fun: For some weird kid-logic driven reason, the boys will eat anything that is in a special shape. No one touches soup unless the noodles are characters. Regular cheese crackers-no way; shape them like fish and they are gone in a flash. When I found these cute Tyson dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets I knew the boys would eat them in a hot minute. I had actually never bought them frozen nuggets before because I was worried about the health factor but these have no fillers, are all natural, and they are even a good source of calcium from the breading. Sounds like a winner to me!
My middle son Nash (who rarely eats meat) was excited to try these, I even convinced him to add in some broccoli trees for the stegosaurus to “eat.” My older son got a bit more creative in his meal though-we went for a mashed potato and gravy “volcano” too! Even the baby got in on the action and ate up a few dinos of his own!!
Bribery: You see all the yummy desserts I post here on the blog? Well I don’t eat them usually. I use them as outright bribery for the boys to eat their meals all day. They know they need to finish their dinner including their veggies in order to get whatever yummy concoction I made that week. My younger “smug” mommy self would be horrified but you know what-it works for me!!
How do you keep your kiddos eating healthy? Do you have picky eaters too?
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