I often hear from parents that they can’t get their kids to try new foods or that they don’t like a lot of food that is healthy for them. Some days they simply will not eat anything you want them to. That’s ok. They’re not going to be malnourished if they only eat crackers for a whole day. You do need to keep trying, however, and find the right method that works for you and your family.

Here are some ways to get toddlers to eat their food and develop some healthy eating habits. Remember, don’t stop trying- they will often surprise you and eat something that they previously refused.

  1. Fun plates and utensils: I put some of my kids’ food in small, colorful bowls. There are also plates and forks with themes on them.
  2. Try some magic: We play a game in our house called “let me see if your food disappears if I cover my eyes.” A quick abracadabra, and the food is gone. Ok, maybe that game title is a little long.
  3. Promise of another food: I can get my son to eat his greens if I promise another food that he likes. We often go back and forth by the fork full. To me it’s a little disgusting to have a bite of broccoli and then apple turnovers, and then back to broccoli, but hey – whatever works!
  4. Food in a shape: Kids love to play with their food, and I typically would discourage that, but there’s something to be said about chicken on a stick or a happy face of peas.
  5. Have a party: Have your kids “feed” the food to their favorite stuffed animal first.
  6. Blend it up: A great way to add nutrition to your kids diet is to sneak it in. I add kale and broccoli to my kids’ smoothies. Going back to number one, does anyone remember the crazy straw?
  7. Make them the chef: If I get their help making dinner, they are more likely to try it. Next time you’re making salad, let them help by ripping spinach leaves.
  8. Smaller quantities: If I’m trying a new food with my kids, I will put a little on their plate at first. They’re more likely to try it if there’s not an overwhelming quantity in front of them.
  9. Sticker charts: I promise my son a sticker if he tries what I’d like him to eat. Usually that’s enough. You can also try a reward system – earn 10 stickers and we get to go to the park.
  10. Make up a name: Kids will try something if it has a fun name. Try some magic zucchini sticks!

Feel free to post some tricks of the trade that have worked for your little one.