- Whenever possible, involve the children in food selection and meal preparation.
- Small, whole vegetables and florets and most fruits are almost always appealing to kids. Now and again, encourage your picky eater to try a new fruit or vegetable by arranging a platter in fun shapes or pictures.
- Serve vegetables on, in or with something your child really likes (as part of a pizza topping or stirred into macaroni and cheese). Be warned that at certain points in the preschool years, sneaking in good foods can backfire because many kids will, at some point, balk at eating one food that has touched another.
- Remember that bribes and rewards for eating(or punishments for not eating) can lead to problems later on. Be patient and try to remember how awful you once thought lima beans and cauliflower tasted.
- Be satisfied with a taste test. If she doesn't like it, she doesn't like it.
- Don't insist that a child join "the clean plate club." The long-term goal of helping a child regulate his food intake can be undermined when a child is told to eat even when he is full.
- A tired or upset child is not likely to eat much of anything. This is not the time to experiment with new foods.
- Create an interest in good foods at the supermarket, helping toddlers identify colors and shapes, preschoolers compare sizes and kindergartners find veggies that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
- Include some fun as you encourage healthful eating. For example, pretend that broccoli stalks are trees, that peas are magic pebbles or that orange slices are smiles.
- Eat nutritiously yourself. Be more than a role model. Be healthy.
From The Parents Book of Lists: From Birth to Age Three, by the editors of Parents magazine with Marge Kennedy. Copyright © 2000 by Roundtable Press and G+J USA Publishing.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.