Playful ways to help Picky Eaters – No more mealtime battles!

Playful ways to help picky eaters

This article ‘Playful tips to help Picky Eaters’ is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Kind to Kidz.

Wouldn’t it be great if dinner could be a relaxed and fun time for your family instead of a nightly battle?  It can be! Check out our list below of handy ways to tempt picky-eaters and maintain peace and sanity all at the same time.

Playful ways to help Picky Eaters

Admit it – who hasn’t had a family meal end in complete and pure frustration, picky eaters refusing to eat?  To receive complaints about what food is on the table, and feeling completely and utterly deflated about the fact that no one appreciates how much effort you’ve put into cooking?

Dealing with picky eaters is a normal part of parenthood, the same as being picky with your food is a normal part of growing up.

When you are having that negotiation with your kids every night over dinner it can seem like you’re the only one who has been there – but rest assured you are absolutely not alone.

And because you aren’t the first parent who’s been through the nightly fussy eating battle, we have been able to put together some very handy picky eater tips, tricks and games from other mums and dads who have been there and survived.

Even while your temper is rising and the temptation is to yell, that getting angry over dinner isn’t the answer. Getting angry in this situation only seems to make your child more stubborn, and the whole experience gets more stressful for everyone.

Wouldn’t it be great if dinner could be a relaxed and fun time for your family instead?  It can be!  Check out our list below of handy ways to tempt picky eaters and maintain peace and sanity all at the same time.

These tips can help you cope with the pickiness of a range of different aged children.

Younger kids will respond better to physical games, songs, actions and jokes, whereas school-age children will need word games and negotiating which will intrigue their growing minds as well as challenging their stubborn natures.

7 quick and playful tips to help with picky eaters

Conversation starters

help picky eaters converstation starter

Dinner time is a great time of day to be away from screens, and have some quality conversation and family time.  With picky eating, you want to create positive mealtime experiences – and sometimes the best way to do this can be by changing some of the focus away from the food.

Whilst my boys can  be good talkers – when asking them questions like ‘how was your day?’ they are generally met with one word answers.

These conversation starters always end up in a laugh at our dinner table:

  • What is one super power you would most love to have?
  • If you had to pick only one – would you want to be a great singer or a great dancer?
  • If you could go into any TV show – what show would want to visit?
  • What do you think your are good at?
  • If you could only eat one fruit forever – what fruit would it be?
  • What rules would you make if you were a teacher?
  • If you could be an animal what would you be?
  • What are three words you would uses to describe yourself?
  • If you went to another planet – what would you bring with you?
  • If you could make your whole house out of food – what food would you use?

What’s in the dinner?

This is an easy game where children take turns guessing at the ingredients that went into the dinner. They get better at identifying individual foods and surprisingly this tends to make them more comfortable with the various items in the meal rather than less.

My aspiring comedians started out by suggesting things like ‘pickled penguins’ and ‘feet’, but they did eventually start discussing real food options.

Get kids cooking

This is an awesome way to get help in the kitchen and get your kids more familiar with their food. When children are actively involved in making the meal they are far more likely to happily eat it (and may even convince siblings to do so too!)

Even if your little ones are too young for real food and utensils, they would love to help in the kitchen with their own role play.

Hape Pretend Play Veggie Set Help Picky Eaters

Check out the gorgeous range of wooden play kitchen items from Kind to Kidz. Especially lovely for the tiniest of fussy eaters and first-time cooks is this fruit and veggie role play set.

A tiny taste

Okay, this sounds weird, but breaking dinner down to just one try is all you need in the beginning.

One fantastic tip we love comes from Dr Jennifer Cohen who specialises in assisting with fussy eaters.  She calls this the tiny taste rule.

Negotiate with your child that they aren’t able to say they don’t like something until they have tried it at least once.  Promise them if they try, and then really don’t like it, they don’t have to eat any more. They can even spit out the mouthful if they really don’t like it.

It is completely valid to not like food once tried – most children just reject food without the trying. Be careful about forcing children to eat food they don’t want as this can lead to food aversions according to Dr Cohen.

Gift them their own special, colourful plates

Picky eating tips - replay divider plates from kind to kidz

Make a special gift of a new plate to your child to make dinner more of an interactive game than a tedious chore. Then will particularly look forward to getting to use their special plate or dinner set.

We love the bright colours in these Re-Play divider plates by Kind to Kidz – and the divided sections are great for any little fusspots who don’t like their food to touch.

Popping one of these super-cute plates underneath your child’s meal is guaranteed to peak their interest and make dinner time a bit more interactive and fun.

Give their food a name and story

Create a world for your child’s food where each ingredient has a name, personality and even a backstory if you like. Turning their food into characters (Peter the Pea, Brian the Broccoli etc.) can help with getting kids to try it and be less afraid of it.

You can talk about the food getting sad for not being eaten, or have it try to run away from the plate before your child has to catch it in their mouth. Talk about what it did that day, and how its bed is on your child’s tongue, and it’s time for the food to go to sleep.

Your imagination can take you anywhere with this one – just create the characters and story and off you go!

Tiny Masterchef judges

With the wave of cooking shows and food vloggers, everyone is a food critic! Try playing Masterchef and getting the kids to judge and critique the meal. Make it creative and fun – they are not allowed to just offer ‘Yuk’ as a review.

Try to get them to describe colours, textures, flavours, what they liked and what they didn’t, what might improve the meal (i.e. covering it in chocolate sauce!) They can finish critiques by giving scores out of ten or offering thumbs up, sideways or down as a review.

Imaginative play – make mealtimes fun

picky eating tips - breakfast role play set from kind to kidz

With little ones, trying to keep your cool and make mealtimes fun is sometimes the best way to go. Have small toys and games at the table to help keep the mood light.

We really love keeping the toys food-themed however, as this teaches them that food and eating is the focus now. The gorgeous Kind to Kidz range has a couple of great options for this, including this beautiful retro-look breakfast role play set.

What’s that good for

If there is one thing about my boys, they love to show off how strong they are!  We love to play games identifying what a particular food is good for.

Such as:

  • Carrot is good for supersonic eye sight
  • Broccoli has a lot of vitamin C, which helps us heal quickly if we hurt ourselves in the playground
  • Sweet potato is full of nutrients that give us energy which helps us run faster
  • Milk has calcium, which keeps our bones strong
  • etc

Have a sword fight

Help picky eaters with a sword fight!

A sword fight, say what?

Last week, I put a platter of veggies in the middle of the table at dinner time.  Usually, neither of my boys will TOUCH snow peas.  Well I picked up a snow pea and asked who was game enough to have a sword fight with me!

Both boys immediately picked up a snow pea, ready for the challenge.  We had a little snow pea sword fight, and at the end I declared myself the winner, meaning I got to eat my snow pea first.  Both boys responded ‘no me, no me!’ completely forgetting that they didn’t like them (or did they???)!

We all gobbled up our snow peas and I ticked that off as a win!

Whilst I’m sure my mother would have been horrified with our table manners, it was certainly an effective way to keep the mood light and create a positive association between my boys and a food they didn’t think they would like.

Link to Fussy Eating Facebook Group

Picky Eater Tips: Remember a few key things:

When your child is refusing to eat, it is usually about something else other than food.

They might be doing it because something else is bothering them, or because in being a picky eater they might be getting more concentrated attention from you than they have had all day. They also pick up on your stress and frustration and feed on that (this they will feed on – the irony of that is ridiculous!).

Have go-to safety foods that you know they will eat, and then use these as a buffer in between the other things. Get your child to have one bite of something new, then an old favourite food as a chaser, and keep alternating until you are happy with the amount they have eaten.

Children may seem like they are picky about a lot of things, but it is scientific fact that their taste buds are a lot more sensitive – so all of the individual flavours, textures and spices are much stronger for them than they are for you. Take a deep breathe and accept if they really don’t like some things.

 

In the wise words of Frozen’s Elsa…

If the argument is going nowhere and you are just finding yourself getting frustrated, let it go for tonight. Don’t reward their bad behaviour, but cut yourself some slack at the same time – no one wants to be stuck at the table all night glaring at their child over the plate that won’t get eaten.

And if all else fails, just put their food on your plate  – this is a guaranteed way to get children to eat anything!

For some mealtime inspiration for picky esters,  check out our article here.

And if you have your own handy tip to offer that has really worked for you in the past, comment and let us know – we would love to hear about it!

Rachel Cassidy - Owner - Little Peeps EatsRachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

Foolproof baby led weaning recipes + essential tips for getting started!

baby led weaning recipes ezpz

This article ‘Foolproof baby led weaning recipes + essential tips for getting started!’ is a collaboration between ezpz Australia and Little Peeps Eats.

When it comes to learning how to feed you baby, there is a minefield of information out there.  I remember feeling  completely overwhelmed by it all with my first.  To make this process easier for you – I’ve included my hot tips to make the process easier for you, my favourite baby led weaning recipes, and other useful information.

Let’s start from when it all begins.  When your baby is six months of age, they are likely now ready to start solid foods and move on from a diet that is made up entirely of breastmilk or formula. Solid foods are introduced gradually so that your baby gets used both to eating and to processing each type of food. There are two main methods of teaching your baby to eat; baby led weaning and parent led weaning.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby led weaning is the process of starting your baby on solid foods that is driven by your baby. Instead of you feeding your baby with a spoon and essentially controlling what they eat, you present your baby with age-appropriate food in safe portions and just them choose what they want to eat, when and how much.

This can be done is a number of ways, such as:

  • Giving foods that are cut into finger-food sizes and placed in front of them to choose as they wish; and
  • Teaching your baby to use their own spoon with liquid-like foods such as yoghurt, custard, cereal and purees.

You need to consider what your baby can grasp with their hands (usually in the fist at this stage) and give the freedom and opportunity to learn and guide through this process.

This can be a much messier process than parent led weaning, and a bit more out of control, but many parents and babies love it.

Parent Led Weaning

parent led weaning

The more common and conventional method of learning to eat is parent led weaning (otherwise referred to as traditional weaning). You will puree the food and serve it to your baby directly with a spoon, and decide what your baby will eat, when, and how much.

Pros and Cons of Baby Led Weaning

Many parents find baby led weaning easier than parent led weaning, especially ones who already have older children.

I know that the second time round, when I did baby led weaning, I certainly didn’t miss the hours spent in the kitchen pureeing fruit and vegetables!

Through baby led weaning, your baby can join in mealtimes with the family, and you are not needing to sit your bubs down at their own separate time, allowing you to juggle other priorities and tasks.

This kind of eating is much messier than parent led and can involve more food waste, so you need to be able to accept these parts of it.  It does involve more preparation than buying premade purees, but probably less than making your own purees.

Because a lot of food is going to get wasted, try not to get too stressed about preparation. It is easiest for the parent if you can be as relaxed about it all as possible.

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning recipes

Baby led weaning may have some developmental and health benefits for your baby, including learning good eating behaviours and having a healthy relationship with food.

The benefits of baby-led weaning may include:

  • They can be more likely to choose a range of healthy foods for themselves earlier in their development
  • Your child may be less picky as they grow older
  • They get better at being able to tell when they are full, and can have a reduced risk of obesity as an adult
  • Eating together as a family has positive emotional benefits for children.

Easy steps for Baby Led Weaning

Sit your baby in a high chair and offer food at the same time as the rest of the family are eating. They will enjoy the interaction and learn to copy you.

Offer food that is the rough size and shape of your baby’s fingers or has a natural handle. Offer a few different things at once and let your baby guide the process.  Don’t feel the need to hold back on serving vegetables just at dinner time – feel free to mix up the range of foods you serve at different times of the day.

You can also serve thick liquid foods like yoghurt and purees for your baby to feed themselves. It helps if you have a bowl or plate that will stick to the high chair tray, and a spoon designed for his grip at this age.

There are some fabulous products on the market these days to make the process that bit easier for you, and bubs!

The Avent bendable learning spoon is a nifty product that can assist your baby in feeding themselves.  A slight bend of the spoon can really help them get that food into their little mouth when learning to self feed!

Pair it up with an ezpz Mini Bowl which actually suctions to the high chair – and it’s a match made inheaven!  I can’t tell you how many bowls of yoghurt I’ve cleaned off the floor… which is just not possible with this awesome product (not to mention it being dishwasher safe + bpa free!)!

baby led weaning recipes ezpz happy bowl

Tips for baby led weaning

Mix it up

Serve your baby a variety of nutrient rich foods such as meat, chicken, tofu, beans, legumes, leafy greens, mushrooms, cheese, eggs, and fish.

You will find that your baby may just suck on, mash or throw more of it than actually eat it when they first start out. Don’t stress out – this is completely normal and expected behaviour!  Ensure that you are still giving as many breastmilk or formula feeds as before, so your baby is still getting the nutrition that they need.

Whilst it can be good to expose your baby to different herbs once they are starting to enjoy their food, try to avoid adding salt or sugar/artificial sweeteners to foods.  Natural sweetener like pureed fruit is fine.

Keep an eye on safety

baby-led-weaning-recipes

Make sure that you are providing your baby age-appropriate foods cut into shapes they can easily hold.  They  won’t be able to use pincer grip yet, which is where a baby will pick up things between the thumb and forefinger.

The food should be soft enough for your baby to eat without choking.

Don’t give anything that your baby could choke on. Don’t offer raw carrot or apple sticks until they are much older, but grated carrot or apple is fine.

Do not give small, hard or round things such as nuts, grapes (unless they are chopped up), corn chips, popcorn etc, as these can get caught in the windpipe.

Dealing with the mess

One of the hardest parts about baby led weaning is dealing with the mess. I think that more parents would take this eating option, if they knew of all the products on the market designed to make it so much easier.

Definitely try baby led weaning in an area that can be wiped down; stay away from carpeted or rugged areas to begin. Use specially designed bowls or plates such as these super cute ezpz mini mats  which suction to the tray or table.

Another great idea is a full-torso bib such as the Silly Billyz Long Sleeve Bib.  This kind of eating can get a lot more interactive than parent led, and often requires more bib coverage than usual. The sleeved bib is practical and easy to clean.

Baby Led Weaning Recipes & Meal Ideas

When you start your baby on solids start with 1-2 solid meals a day, usually at lunchtime.

Fruit and vegetables that they can grab are great, such as:

  • Grated apple or carrot
  • Steamed chunks of vegetable such as pumpkin, zucchini or sweet potato, spears of broccoli or green beans
  • Slices of banana or soft pear or chunks of watermelon

You can then progress to adding meals across the day and developing eating patterns.

It can easiest to let your baby eat at the same time as the family eats, so it might make sense to divide his food up into breakfast, lunch, snacks etc.

Because your baby can safely have things like herbs and spices, oils etc from now on you might find it simpler to make the same meals for the whole family.  It certainly made my life easier the second time around!

Breakfast

  • Wholegrain toast fingers topped with mashed avocado or banana, and cream cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Home made pancakes (throw in some pureed spinach to the mix for extra goodness!).
  • Pieces of fruit served with yoghurt for dipping.
  • They could also serve themselves yoghurt or porridge from a bowl and spoon. For some fantastic and very easy yoghurt recipes see here.
  • For more breakfast recipe ideas go here.

Link to Fussy Eating Facebook Group

Lunch/Dinner

Snacks

  • Grated cheese or cheese sticks
  • Fruit such as blueberries, slices of cantaloupe, mango, orange or mandarin
  • Mini rice cakes
  • Sandwich fingers with:
    • Scrambled eggs
    • Cream cheese and tuna and corn
    • Sliced ham and cheese
    • Cheese and vegemite
  • Food sticks he can grab such as boiled eggs chopped into wedges, thick cooked pasta, wedges of tomato and slices of capsicum, soft cooked meat such as roast beef or little meatballs. You could also try tofu sticks or sushi rounds.
  • Tuna cakes – see this awesome recipe
  • Mini pizzas
  • Chopped strawberries
  • Cubes of cheese
  • Rice cakes with dip such as tzatiki or guacamole

Important things to remember

  • Educate yourself on what to do if your baby chokes. 
  • Solids should not replace breast milk or formula. It is recommended that you provide this to your baby until at least 12 months of age.
  • Ensure your baby is showing signs of being ready for solids before you start their food journey (good head and neck control, shows interest and reaches for food, and is at least four months old (traditional weaning) or six months old (baby led weaning).
  • It is recommended to not delay introducing solids past six months as your baby needs additional iron and nutrients found in food.
  • The information in this article is general in nature and it is always recommended you speak with a qualified health professional regarding introducing solids to your baby.

I wish you all the best in your journey introducing solids to your baby!  If you have a favourite baby led weaning recipe, please share it in the comments below!

Information Resource: Baby Center

Rachel Cassidy - Owner - Little Peeps EatsRachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats.  She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum!  Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.

 

Essential guide to preparing meals for picky eaters

meals for picky eaters

This article ‘Essential Guide to preparing meals for picky eaters’ is a collaboration between Emondo Kids and Little Peeps Eats.

Serving meals to picky eaters can be a huge source of frustration for many families.  There is something truly deflating about serving up a delicious home cooked meal to your family, only to have it completely rejected.  I’ve been there.  I think most mums have, right?

Both of my boys have been through stages of picky eating, and during these times there has been much trial and error, seeking advice from experts, and learning on the go.

Our mealtimes are much calmer now, and actually enjoyable for our family.  I’d love to share with you all of the things that I’ve implemented that have been a game changer to our mealtimes.Continue Reading →

Ultimate list of super easy toddler snack ideas

ezpz happy mat blue toddler snack ideas

It can be easy to draw a blank when it comes to toddler snack ideas.  Sometimes I look at fancy creations online and wonder how some of these amazing mammas have the time or energy to create such fun masterpieces!  Hats of to those that do – but in my house… it’s got to be simple.

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10 simple tricks to create fun food for kids lunchboxes

Unicorn lunch punch makes fun food for kids

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My eldest son is now heading into  term three of Kindergarten (where did the first half of this year go?). I’m now starting to think about all of the fun things I’ve got planned to add a bit of fun to his school lunch.  When looking at some of the amazing kids lunchboxes on places like Instagram – it can be easy to think that it’s a hard task to create fun foods for kids.  But in all truth – there are a few tips and tricks that make the process quite fast and simple!Continue Reading →

OmieBox – is it really the best bento box for kids?

spaghetti-best-bento-box

This article ‘OmieBox – is it really the best bento box for kids?’ is a collaboration between Bambino Love and
Little Peeps Eats.  Featured image supplied by OmieLife.

There are an incredible number of bento boxes on the market these days.  Whilst there are certainly advantages of being spoilt for choice, it can also mean it is a tough choice to wok out which will be the best bento box for your children.

Over the years, I have acquired a number of bento lunch boxes for my kids.  They range greatly in size, functionality, and price.  I’d heard a lot about the OmieBox.  It’s been called ‘The holy grail of bento boxes’, and it won the 2017 Family Choice Award, so I was very curious to find out whether it lived up to the hype or not.Continue Reading →

9 ways to bring your healthy lunchbox to the next level

OmieBox Healthy Lunchbox

This blog ‘9 ways to bring your healthy lunchbox to the next level’ is a collaboration between Bambino Love and Little Peeps Eats.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with packing lunchboxes, and choosing pre-packaged items that are convenient to pack. Unfortunately many pre-packaged items are high in salt, sugar, and other nasties, making them not always a fabulous option.  Whilst there is nothing wrong with taking a shortcut once in a while, the good news is there are some simple healthy lunchbox swaps you can make to help your little peep reach their daily nutritional requirements.

I’d like to share with you some simple ideas and switches you can make to help your little peep meet their daily nutritional requirements.

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How to deal with the onslaught of chocolate this Easter

kids onslaught of chocolate at easter

Disclosure: This post on ‘How to deal with the onslaught of chocolate this Easter’ may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.

Whether you buy vegan organic chocolate or your local supermarket variety, it can be tricky to manage the onslaught of chocolate this Easter.

There are many styles in handling this scenario with kids and some better than others, which ones, might surprise you.

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How to pack the ultimate beach picnic for your family

Baby on beach eating banana

Today we welcome mum and business owner, Melanie Aslanidis from Beachside Collective – an online space for lovers of coastal design and island style.  She’s giving us her tips on how to pack the ultimate beach picnic for your family!  Over to you Mel…

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Healthy lunchbox snacks your kids will actually eat

Happy school girl with healthy lunchbox snacks

In just a few short weeks, Julian will be starting school, and I’m starting to think about how I can pack some healthy lunchbox snacks that he will actually eat.

Where did the last five years go?  My little man is growing up, and he is super excited about the adventures to come.  If you’ve been following me for a while you will know that I’m pretty passionate about nourishing my family (as we pretty much all are right?) but I am also realistic and know that as life gets busier, I won’t always have time to be baking from scratch for hours on end anymore… so I have been on the hunt for some healthy lunchbox snacks that Julian will actually eat!  And I’m so pleased to be sharing with you what I’ve found…Continue Reading →