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andreaxjean's avatar

How do you get your child to eat the food that you make for them?

Asked by andreaxjean (1268 points ) May 29th, 2010

Must you dip it in some strange condiment?

Do you have to sing a funny song?

Do you make choo choo train or airplane sounds?

My 18 month old daughter won’t eat a grilled cheese sandwich unless I dip it in ranch veggie dip! Not ranch dressing, dip. She’s not picky with fruits or veggies. She eats asparagus, of all things. Sometimes I have to tickle her feet so she laughs and opens her mouth and I quick stick the food in. LOL

What kinds of tricks do you pull to get your kids to eat?

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28 Answers

rebbel's avatar

My parents ‘threatened’ me that if i would not finish my veg and potatoes i would not get my dessert.
I love(d) desserts, so nine out of ten times i chose to finish my meal (although it sometimes was cold and made me retch).

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Have you tried taking a bite in front of her and acting like it’s the best thing in the world you’ve ever tasted? Some of my friends had to do this with their kids, and once the kids saw how delicious their parents thought the food was, they wanted to eat it immediately.

gemiwing's avatar

I ask them why they don’t like it. Usually they have a reason- breads too crunchy (hurts the roof of their mouth), celery is stringy and feels gross, broccoli tastes like dirt etc.

Then we figure out a way to work around it, or serve something else. Another thing is to let them make their own food. Have two kinds of bread, two kinds of cheese- ask her which one she wants then ask her what color (white/brown) she wants her sandwich to be when it’s done. Works well with slightly older children, but giving fewer (and simple) choices help them get excited about the food.

Silhouette's avatar

I used to wait them out. I know a mom who would give her son what he wanted and all he ever wanted was cheese dipped in ketchup and a juice box. Not only couldn’t the kid poop, his teeth rotted out from the juice boxes. My children ate what we ate. Sometimes I had to wait until they were good and hungry before they would belly up to the bar for their salmon but eventually, I had kids who wanted good balanced meals, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and fish instead of a happy meal. Worth all the reheating and the hassle of doing dishes 12 times a night.

SmashTheState's avatar

When I was a child, the rule was that you had to try something at least once every time it was put in front of you. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to eat the rest. But the next time it was put on your plate, you had to try it again. And if I refused to eat something which I had already admitted that I liked in the past, it was put in the refrigerator and served to me at every single meal thereafter until either I ate it or I starved to death.

The result is that as an adult, while I have preferences in terms of food choices, there is nothing I won’t try. I’ve eaten everything from honey-covered bees to durians, and discovered a lot of things I enjoy which I wouldn’t otherwise have discovered.

MissA's avatar

From what you’ve described, I think you child is doing quite well.

As she gets older, try allowing her to help you prepare food. They get a sense of pride about that which they’ve created. And, she’ll want to taste her own creation.

Your_Majesty's avatar

The rule: You don’t leave the dining table if you haven’t finished your food. Although there would be an exception for toddler. Food is precious here. And you can’t afford to waste it just because it’s not your favorite,as long as it’s edible. Period.

cookieman's avatar

• We all eat the same meal.
• No special orders.
• If your not done eating by the time we are, your plate gets removed.
• You must try everything once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.
• And, as @DrasticDreamer said, we make everything look/sound delicious.

It helps that my wife’s a great cook and we’re not picky eaters.

Worked well with my daughter who’s now proud to tell her friends, “I’ll try any food once.”

chels's avatar

My hair is naturally ridiculously curly.

When I was younger I hated lima beans. I seriously despised them. That was only until my mom told me that if I ate lima beans my hair would get straighter. Yeah. I believed it. Maybe think of a little something like that?

Also, I basically raised my siblings. One thing I used to do was have them know that once they finished the thing they hated, we could go do something fun like watch a movie, or do some artsy craft project (like make a sign for their bedroom door) and it worked wonders for me.

john65pennington's avatar

My nephew grew up eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches. started at the age of two and continues today. peanut butter is loaded with protein, so the doc said to continue to let him eat it. he was given a childrens multi-vitamin, also. my granddaughter would eat nothing, unless it had Ranch Dressing on it. still that way today. we all have our own little quirks. quirks are okay as long they are something that is out of control, like drug addiction.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. When all else fails you feed them “juke balls” for about 2–4 days then when they balk at eating what you prepared you hauls some frozen juke balls from the fridge and tell them “It is either meat loaf and mashed potaoes etc, or juke balls” I bet they will rush anything other than the balls.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

The thing that worked with my parents, on me (and I’m so ashamed to admit that it worked): “If you don’t finish that, I’m going to give you more!”

And since I knew that I would eventually have to finish what was on my plate (hey, it’s what we did in the 50s and 60s, and I don’t know why, either), then I knew that if I didn’t finish what was there, then there would be more… and I would have to finish that, too.

I tried that for a short while with my kids, but they, being apparently much more intelligent than I, laughed in my face about that: “What? You’re going to give me more? *And I’m not going to eat that, either!” The ‘schmuck’ at the end of that declaration was generally sotto voce, or I’d have to deal with that, too.

What worked well once was telling them that “that broccoli on Daddy’s salad is adult food, and you can’t have it.” When I got up from the table to get something else from the salad bar I got back to find them with green florets on their teeth and shit-eating (metaphorical!) grins on their faces. That’s when I knew that I was still just a little bit smarter than they are were.

rebbel's avatar

@CyanoticWasp
I could of course wait until you reach 20K and somebody is throwing you a party to tell you this, but i do it now: Your answers are always fun to read.
You should write!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@rebbel thanks.

Removed by Fluther moderators

Sometimes you have to read fast, though.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I was always given the choice of eating what was offered or waiting for the next meal. I think what helped was not having sauces or dips on the food or offered with them. This was issue with a nephew of mine but like me, he chose not to go hungry. Good boy.

Seek's avatar

OMFG. @CyanoticWasp I love it. I’m definitely going to use that on my kid.

My son, at under two years old, will eat anything as long as it isn’t green, and he can dip it in something. I swear, he’s afraid of green food. Last night, I had him eating tuna mixed with hot salsa on tortilla chips – and he loved it. It was probably more the activity of scooping up the fish with the chips than anything. Try, just try to get him to eat a green bean. It just doesn’t happen.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I have a nephew who when he was younger wouldn’t eat much of anything with any color. White it was, or in the garbage.

He’d eat white bread, milk, rice, potatoes and sometimes turkey or chicken. (Never “the other white meat”, as far as I know.) Mayonnaise was okay, and I think tuna, too. I don’t know if anyone tried to feed him any cauliflower, but that might have worked. (He was also the whitest kid you could imagine who wasn’t an albino.)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@CyanoticWasp my stepsons are that way, also. If it isn’t white or a fried golden brown, they don’t want anything to do with it. Their eating habits absolutely drive me up a wall. The most colorful thing I’ve ever seen them eat is children’s breakfast cereal… in fact, they may have had Fruity Pebbles for Christmas dinner this past year (if I remember correctly.)

Jeruba's avatar

When my older son was still in the high chair, he had a little cereal bowl that had the alphabet around the edges. We’d look at the letters while I fed him. When he slowed down, it would be “Take a bite for the D.” And “Come on, honey, one more bite for the J.” He was always good for one more bite for the J. We’d say the letters and point to them while he ate. We’d spell his name. We’d spell “Mum.” We’d spell “Dad.”

He could recognize and name all the letters by the time he was 18 months old.

My younger son seemed to be born knowing more tricks than I would ever learn. I never did feel as if I could get ahead of him.

janbb's avatar

Make only foods they liked to eat. Not a very creative answer, but I had one kid who as intransigent refusenik and rather than make mealtime a battlefield, I gave him what he would eat.

casheroo's avatar

Butter.
I literally have to smother his food in butter to get him excited about dinner. He’ll even try to eat it out of the container!! I use a natural veggie or something butter, so it makes me feel better about it lol

MissAusten's avatar

None of the tricks that anyone has ever mentioned to me worked on my kids. Even the “tricks” I used to get kids in my daycare class to eat never worked at home. :( Dipping sauces, acting like the food is super yummy, saying it’s a grown-up food, disguising veggies, giving the food cute names (like “bean balls” instead of “peas”), letting them help cook…none of it. I remember trying to convince my daughter, as a toddler, to try some broccoli. I told her, “It’s little trees! Daddy loves it, Mommy loves it, and Aunt Katy loves it!” Aunt Katy was her favorite person. My daughter gave me a calm look and said, “Well, I don’t like it.”

Luckily for us, only one of our kids is really picky, and he is gradually getting better. For a long time, as a very young toddler, he would only eat bread and cheese. Now he will also eat chicken, pasta with red sauce, scrambled eggs, and several kinds of fruit. He will not eat veggies at all. He will try them, and seems genuinely to not like them. He gags and almost pukes. He also gags easily when brushing his teeth, and if he sees another person spit he will start gagging. It makes me wonder if something about the texture and taste of other meats and vegetables triggers that same response. Anyway, my husband and I don’t make meals an issue. I cook things I know all of us like, except my youngest. I’ll throw together something simple for him. We never force the kids to eat everything on their plates or eat things we know they don’t like. However, once a meal is over, it’s over. There are no “snacks” ten minutes after lunch or dinner.

As a side note, I think parents should be careful with coercing kids into eating. As long as the child is getting a healthy, balanced diet over the course of a few days (instead of focusing on each meal), I wouldn’t be concerned. Each parent has to pick their own battles, but battles over food just seem to have more potential to have long-term effects. When my kids say they’re full, I excuse them from the table even if they seem to have barely touched their food. I just remind them not to ask me for anything else until the next mealtime. They rarely do, and seem to do a good job of regulating their own food intake.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@casheroo Ugh, that reminds me. I use to bite huge chunks out of butter when I was little. The memory literally makes me gag, now. Blegh! :-/

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Not eating something is not an option. That’s how it’s always been and while my 4 year old fusses sometimes, it’s just him showing his belligerent side. If he doesn’t eat, he’s not leaving the chair. If he eats forever, he’ll miss play time. If he plays with his food, he’ll be left alone in the room with no one to pay attention to him. Sometimes I say ” you eat 10 spoons and I’ll sprinkle a little cocoa on your oatmeal” and so it goes every 10 spoons or with dinner, it’s a bit of ketchup.

andreaxjean's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I eat what she’s eating all the time and say “Mmmmmm, yummy!”. I always make the food and we sit down together to eat the meal. She sees me eating it and then she tries to feed me her food. LOL

@CyanoticWasp Haha! My daughter does want everything I have that she knows she can’t have. For example: coffee and wine. In the morning when I’m eating my breakfast and she sees me with a mug she says “Coffee? Mmm.” And when I have a glass of wine at dinner, she reaches for it and says “Mine!” She’s so naughty. ;-]

@MissAusten I never force her to eat anything. I always ask her if she’s hungry and if she is, she’ll say “Hungry?” She does the same thing when I ask her if she has to go potty by saying “Potty?” Then I sit her in her high chair and as soon as I do she always says “Cheer-ohs?” (Cheerios) or “Fish?” (Pepperidge Farm Gold Fish). But I don’t give in and give those to her. I’ll make her real food (some kind of meat, starch, and a veggie) and out of that, she usually only ever takes one bite of the meat and starch but she’ll eat all the veggies. It makes me wonder if maybe she’ll become a vegetarian some day. I was a vegetarian for 4 years until I got pregnant… then all I wanted was steak, haha!

zophu's avatar

In regions were cheese is not customary the average person smells and tastes only rotting milk. Which is what it is. It’s the fat and concentrated opiates present in cow’s milk that get people to like the stuff. It’s an an acquired taste (addiction). Why trick your kid into eating it? Kids naturally want to eat healthy. It’s when you give them addictive shit that they loose their natural healthy cravings. If you give them good food from the beginning, they will eat good food.

(Not really criticizing your parenting. Just spreading some healthy cheese-hate.)

MissAusten's avatar

@zophu That actually made me crave cheese. Gah, I’m addicted!

roxanna's avatar

i got them involved in choosing and preparing food, even a little child like yours can have some input ,and will happily eat what SHE prepared.

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