There's plenty you can do to win the food fights at your table. Try out these eight expert tips to make mealtimes the fulfilling -- albeit messy -- experiences they should be.
Your toddler is eating and enjoying a variety of foods, until one day he will eat only plain spaghetti or hot dogs. By day three, parental panic sets in: Will this behavior last forever?
"Don't worry. Food jags are normal," assures Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Showing food preferences can be one ways a young child displays her emerging identity." Most kids will give up a jag by themselves, so it's fine to indulge your child for a short time. But if the jag continues or more than two weeks, gently intervene. "At that point, your child can begin to have possible nutrient deficiencies," she says.
Slowly and nonchalantly reduce your child's portion of the jag food; serve him less spaghetti, for example, while also placing other choices on his plate. When he asks for more of his favorite, say, "That's all there is for tonight." Over the next several days, slowly phase out the jag food.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2007.