TINA EAT. EAT THE FOOD.
There have been so many moment when trying to get the kid to eat the food we make him, that have ended up with me vibing Napoleon Dynamite, although I wouldn't call my son a fat lard, and my son isn't a Llama.
There have been moments when the kid has downright refused to eat the healthy, delicious food that we know he loves. It's so frustrating. Sometimes it has left me wanted to scream, or bury my head in my hands and cry. 'If he doesn't eat the food, he will be malnourished and it will be all my fault.' Oh boy. TAKE A CHILL PILL INDIANA. It's hard with your first kid because you don't know all the tricks of the trade and you've just gotta figure them all out as you go. Once we found what worked for us, life around food became much more bearable and enjoyable.
Sometimes we get our kid up at the table and eating in a pretty unconventional way. We don’t really remember exactly when it started and why it worked, but he went through an infuriating ‘NO!’ stage when it came to food and dinner and trying new things and just eating in general, so we were trying everything and anything to get him to put food other than crackers into his mouth.
Sometimes we ask him what he wants for dinner, or if he is ready for dinner or if he could come to the table or tell him that its time to eat, and sometimes it doesn't work or he doesn't want to engage. So we rephrase the sentence to be more like-
‘You’re not going to eat soup for dinner are you?!’ (In a voice that suggests that he’s about to do something cheeky) to which he replies ‘YES! I am!’ And he runs to the table to start eating. WEIRD RIGHT?!
Sometimes I forget this magical tactic and I’m sitting at the table almost pulling my hair out trying to get him eat and then Al will walk in and says ‘Oh is that for me? Excellent I’m so hungry! If You’re not going to eat it, I’ll have it! Is that ok?’ ‘Nooooo Daddy! It’s mine!’ *starts eating dinner* It’s amazing. It is seriously like magic.
Al used to use this tactic to get him to try food that he hadn’t tried before. Or food we knew he had tried and loved but was refusing to eat because he's a toddler. Al would get real close to the kid with a spoonful of whatever the dish was, say ‘You’re not gonna eat this are you? Nah, this is all for me!’ And slowly move the spoon passed the kids face to his open mouth, Otis would get fomo, intercept and gobble it up! We act shocked and say he's soooo cheeky and most of the time he says ‘I want more?’ If he spits it out saying ‘I no like it’ then we know it isn’t because he is in a grumpy ‘I no like it/I no want it’ mood, he tried it and he actually didn’t like the taste.
I’m also a massive food negotiator.
In an effort to make the kitchen table more fun and not just the place that we force him eat things, we allow the kid to have toys at the table. It’s mostly in the form of trains or cars. Some people choose to have eating/playing separately, but our kid LOVES combining to two! He is going through a fun (but often tiring) stage of wanting us to talk to him through his trains/cars and we have figured out we can use this as leverage and say that the train we are holding would love to see how he eats his dinner etc. If he’s not actively eating I sometimes use trains as bartering tools. Like ‘Oh you want Percy? Well Percy wants to play with you but he wants to see you eat two mouthfuls first!’
Sometimes he get carried away with the playing part and forgets to eat but he’s starting to get really good at listening to reason (most of the time) so I’ll find myself saying something like - ‘Hey smoosh, I’m super happy for us to have the trains at the table but you need to show me that you can play and eat at the same time, otherwise the trains will have to watch until you finish your food. Would you prefer to keep playing? Then we need to be eating at the same time!’ He’s often really responsive to this.
It’s tricky business, and definitely a challenge at times! He's a fricking great kid, it's just sometimes he doesn't want to eat because he's in a bad mood or tired or over hungry and it can be infuriating because you know the food is the thing that would make him feel better.
So we just keep trying. We find something that works, and keep at it. If it stops working we try and find something new.
What are your magic tricks to get your kids to eat all the healthy foods?