I am absolutely thrilled to be heading to Atlanta early this morning for the BlogHer Food Conference, to speak on a panel about Picky Eaters.  Fitting right?  Since most of you won’t be there, I have compiled some tips that may help those finicky eaters that I will be speaking about Saturday morning.

Many of you have picky eaters on your hands or know friends who do.  What on earth do we do about it?  To be honest with you, there is no magic answer here.  Every child is so different.  For heavens sake, I was one of the pickiest eaters myself as a kid.  I am talking, the only vegetable I would eat is corn, and thought macaroni and cheese with hot dogs was the perfect dinner.  The thought of eating lettuce greens or tomatoes made my stomach turn.  I am happy to say, I like about everything in my adult years.  Can hardly believe I am a foodie now, lol!  I tell you this, because I know there is hope for those little picky palates when you think there is absolutely no hope!

What I do know, is what has worked for my boys over the years.  Here are some tips I have compiled that I hope can help!

Slowly introduce new foods to your little ones.  Don’t expect them to jump up and down with excitement the first or even second time you give them a new food.  Persistence and patience is the key.

Make your vegetables and or fruit that your little ones may not be very excited about into fun shapes.  Use small cookie cutters to cut their fruits and veggies into something new and exciting.  Play “What can we make out of our food?” chances are they’ll love it.

Get your kids in the kitchen with you while preparing meals.  When they have a hand in dinner, they’ll be proud of what they’ve done and want to eat it.  As hectic as it can be at times, take the kids to the grocery store with you so they can help pick out ingredients for dinner.  Build excitement about what they pick out.

Don’t make more than one dinner per night for your family.  Some moms I know make dinner for each child because they don’t like what was fixed.  No way!  Try a “No Thank You” policy.  If your child doesn’t like what was made for dinner, simply have them try at least one bite each time then say “No Thank You” if they don’t like it.  Even if they don’t like it the first time, chances are they’ll eventually learn to enjoy it. If they know there is only one choice for dinner, they won’t want to be hungry later.

Make dinner a fun experience, where the kids are excited to sit down.  Your vibe will rub off on them.  When they see their parents ooing and ahhing over what they are eating, they’ll be more likely to eventually join you.  You can even play games with you food while you are eating, like “Let’s see who can take more bites or how many different colors of the rainbow can we eat off our plate?”  Something with a little competition can be fun.

Try “naming” your child’s food something fun and playful… Sammy’s Saucy Superhero Spaghetti, Luke’s Green Giant Broccoli, Anna’s Princess Smile Oranges….you get the idea, make it fun. Purchase inexpensive “fun” kids plates that might be exciting to your child.  If they are eating off of their favorite superhero or princess, they will want to gobble up their food.

Avoid too many snacks before dinner time, keep them hungry for dinner.

Most importantly be patient and make meal time fun.  Persistence will be your best friend.

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What has worked for your family of picky eaters?  Any magic tips I should know about?  Would love to hear it!