How to raise a healthy eater

7 tips from a daycare owner and mom who has helped raise 20 toddlers.

How to raise a healthy eater

Next time you’re experiencing a battle over broccoli, take a breath. Healthy eating isn’t an inherited trait, it’s a learned habit. You can teach your children to eat well (I promise!). You’ve got this. Let’s train these toddlers together.

Every day we are teaching ourselves to crave the foods we eat. The more vegetables and fruits we choose to eat the more our bodies will desire those foods. Every new child has the potential to be a healthy eater right from the start. If you are able to instill healthy eating habits early you have a better chance of raising a healthy eater. But that doesn’t mean you can’t alter the eating habits of a picky toddler. Start by making small changes each week and you can see a big difference at your meal table.


I have had the privilege helping to raise 20 children through my in-home child care center over the last five years. Over that time I have developed routines and methods that have turned those children into vegetable-eating monsters. They devour foods that some adults wouldn’t even touch and then they ask for more. In fact, our time around the meal table is always one of my favorite times of day. So how do I get those little people to eat all that colorful food? It’s simple really: that’s all I have ever given them. To them it is our normal, daily routine, the same we practice every day.

Want to teach your children (to eat) well? Start here:

1. Eat your colors. Every day my children are served fresh fruit and vegetables. I always try to use a variety of foods but I really strive for vibrant colors. We use this to start a discussion at the table: Who knows what colors they see? Who can eat all their orange food? Who can eat all their green food? This makes a great game for them.

2. Involve your children in their meals! I ask their opinion about what they would like to eat that week. I get them involved in cooking by helping measure, pour, and stir. They feel a great deal of pride when given even a small bit of control and I find this encourages them to want to eat what they are served. I also have turned the children into tiny “foodies” by letting them discuss their likes and dislikes of every meal. I never force them to eat anything but instead ask that they try it and tell me their thoughts. This makes for hilarious table conversations and gets them thinking in a whole new way.

3. Serve dessert right along other foods. I don’t make it into a huge deal or treat it special in any way. They do not always get a sweet treat but when they do they hardly notice it. This helps to not set up certain items as highly desirable treats.

4. Plate the food in a way that is appetizing. Children are visual creatures and if it doesn’t look good, some are hesitant to touch it at all. In my home they would be required to at least taste the “ugly” food and tell what is so horrible about it. However I have found that children, like adults, are more likely to think food tastes good if it looks good. It doesn’t have to be fancy and a little thought goes a long way.

5. Gardening with your children is a fantastic way to get them interested in their food and where it comes from. We plant the seeds together, then the children are in charge of watering and weeding the garden as well as harvesting the vegetables. This has my daycare kids eating raw zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans and snap peas right off the plant. Even my pickiest eaters don’t turn it down!

6. I always keep a bag of chopped veggies in the fridge for snacking in-between meals. The kids really enjoy cut up carrots, red pepper, and cauliflower. A little light dressing for dipping and everyone’s happy.

7. Lastly, and most importantly, in order to have a child that lives a healthy lifestyle, YOU must also live a healthy lifestyle, too! If we want our kids to choose carrots of chips, we have to model that behavior, too. This is not to say I don’t indulge, I do too often, but I make a point to not keep junk in the house. If I want it that bad I have to get up off my butt, wrangle the children out the door, and go get it. Most of the time I decide that is just too much effort.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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