“My child is a picky eater. I am worried he is not getting enough nutrition.”

A lot of parents can relate to this. Picky eating often starts during their 12th month when many children begin to feed themselves. Whether they’re distracted or just not hungry, these fussy eaters can be frustrating for a lot of parents. If you’re a parent, you understand that the struggle is real. Here are creative ways to try and get a fussy toddler to eat:

Play with the Food and Get Them Involved

Despite what our parents taught us, sometimes playing with food is okay. Whether you consider yourself creatively challenged or not, you can always make eating time fun by using cool cutouts of food to create faces and animals. Let your child have some fun.

Mix it up and provide a variety of food to your babies. Who wants to eat the same food every day? Not you. Definitely not your toddler, either. Combine a favorite kind of food with a new one. Let your child pick around, and you may get him to eat both. Researchers presented a group of kids with a choice between two chips: a familiar one and a new one. Some of the kids were given a familiar dip, while the others a new dip. The majority of those who had the familiar dip ended up trying out the new chips.

Introduce new colors and textures slowly—like a dollop of fruit puree and a few boiled vegetables. Purees are filled with essential vitamins and other nutrients, but make sure to check a trusted fruit puree supplier to get the best quality. Gently and frequently offer new kinds of food, and encourage them to touch, smell, and lick the food.

Getting your picky eaters have a hand in making the meal might also help them become less wary and more comfortable with the idea of eating the food. They will most likely want to enjoy their “creation.”

Casual Lunch Date

baby eating broccoli

“Babies are hard-wired to be social creatures,” according to Alison Steier. Babies usually open up when they see someone else eating their own lunch. So sit down, eat meals with them, and make sure that they see you enjoying your meal. A study revealed that mothers who showed disgust or interest in new food—through their facial expressions and body language—usually had children who also refused to try and eat new food.

You can also try inviting a toddler friend for a casual lunch date over a variety of frozen puree pops and finger food. Recent experiments revealed that kids were most likely to eat food that they saw other kids eat. Talk about “peer pressure.”

Short Mealtimes

Some children may seem to be picky eaters because they are very active and do not want to stay in the same place too long. Keep your mealtimes as short as possible—10 minutes or so. That way, kids won’t pile up the drama during eating times. Lastly, parents need to understand that it is simply unrealistic to expect toddlers to eat a lot given that their stomachs are approximately the same size as their closed fists only.

Getting your babies to eat isn’t always easy. The most important step to get them to eat is to try and try again. More importantly, remember to pair these creative ways with patience. Lots of patience.

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