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5 Strategies to Motivate your Toddler to Eat Healthy

5 Strategies to Motivate your Toddler to Eat Healthy

5 Strategies to Motivate your Toddler to Eat Healthy

Are you looking for ways to motivate your picky eater to eat more fruits and vegetables? Convincing your children to do things they don’t want to do such as eating vegetables can be challenging. If you want to change a child’s behavior, change their motivation first!

1. Calm Feeding Fears to Lead by Example

Relax. Relax. Relax. It is just food. I am not suggesting tossing in the towel and serving chicken nuggets, gold fish, and cereal at a child’s request. There are two things that took me time to learn with practice and research:

  1. If I am consistent with my feeding rules, healthy eating habits develop over time.
  2. Once I calmed my feeding fears, my ability to relax and enjoy food had a ripple effect on my family. By leading the way and finding joy in my meal, dinners are calm and even fun.

Read:  Relax. It is Just Food. Simple Tips to Calm Your Feeding Fears

2. Create Eagerness

Children have a natural curiosity to learn! If given the chance, children can be adventurous with food but they must be empowered not forced. Allowing children to explore food without the expectation to taste it, increases curiosity.

  • Let your children use knives and other kitchen equipment with supervision (of course).
  • Demonstrate your ability to trust their growth and develop in the kitchen. I often pull up a stool next to the kitchen counter to encourage food preparation in the kitchen or have my children help pick out the best produce at the store.

5 Strategies to Motivate your Toddler to Eat Healthy

3. Take Baby Steps to Expand Flavor Preference

Healthy eating habits are established over time- not in one meal. Many times parents give up and accept their child does not like {insert any food}. I challenge you to look at the bigger picture and take baby steps to a life long journey of healthy eating habits. Consider a child’s capabilities when it comes to food acceptance.

I have two children. My oldest child will eat anything offered to her. My son is the complete opposite. He is as selective as they come but I refuse to fret. I accept he is on a different learning curve compared to my daughter. He needs more time and practice with food variety. Touching a piece of broccoli with his fingers is considered a victory for him.

I often tell parents to invest the same amount of time in teaching taste to a child as they do with practicing the ABCs. How many times do you practice the alphabet before a child begins to read? Some children catch  on fast while others take years. Think of teaching your children to love food as an equal investment of time, patience, and practice.

4. Encourage Meaningful Conversations

Don’t fight over food at the table. Instead encourage conversations about your daily activities. Allowing your child to say no to food will empower them to say yes on another day. Instead of pressure tactics surrounding food refusal, ask your child how they would like the food prepared differently next time.

5. Create a Calm Feeding Environment

If your family meal is stressful, there is a strong chance your child will not eat. Children like to eat in a calm environment without distractions. Food should be fun, not stressful or complicated. Family meals are a time to share, communicate, and learn. Read: Creating a Purposeful Meal with Children

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5 Strategies to Motivate your Toddler to Eat Healthy