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We have all encountered things our kids are particular about during meal times—from foods on the plate that can’t touch to aversions to new foods, or even vegetables that freak them out. 

Throughout my years as a private chef, mom, and food entrepreneur, I’ve discovered some key tricks for feeding eaters who may be more particular about their food choices. These tips have saved me when it comes to feeding my own children and raising good eaters who have a healthy relationship with food. In fact, I dedicated a whole section in my cookbook “Prep + Rally: An Hour of Prep, a Week of Delicious Meals” to conquering mealtime. 

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Here are a few ways to make mealtime fun and how to get a picky toddler to eat

1. Make it fun

There are loads of things you can do to make kids part of the mealtime process instead of setting down a plate in front of them and expecting them to eat what you serve. Here are some tried-and-true ways I make mealtime fun:

  • Choose a menu together
  • Buy buns or tacos to make the meals more kid-friendly 
  • Buy cookie cutters to make shapes out of veggies
  • Serve food on decorative plates
  • Let the kids assemble their own personal pies or burgers. 

All these ideas make meal time a fun event, and will allow your children to get excited about what’s on their plate.

2. Give choices

Kids are also human, and they should have the power to decide if they’re full or if they want one last bite. Give them the confidence to make decisions for themselves, and it will help with their food choices as well. Putting dinner on the table and allowing them to feel like they can choose what to go on their plate will help them actually eat what’s on there. 

3. This is dinner  

While I’m a believer in giving your child a choice, at the end of the day, you’re the parent and you’re the boss. Let your kids know what’s on the table is what’s for dinner.Once they know that other options are not available, they may be more open to eating the dinner you prepared. Show them all the fun ways they can customize their meal to make it their own, which can instill confidence and foster creativity. They will feel like they’re making the choice when really you’ve chosen the dinner, and they just get to choose how to eat it!

For more resources on combating picky eating, heck out the rest of my tips and tricks and loads of kid-friendly recipes in my cookbook “Prep + Rally: An Hour of Prep, a Week of Delicious Meals” available for order now. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please email [email protected]