“Just take one bite”

“You don’t have to like it, you just have to try it”

“I bet if you try it you’ll like it”

“How do you know you’ll like it if you’ve never even tried it?”

How many times have these words come out of your mouth?

First of all, start ’em off right! As soon as your little babe is ready to start eating solids, be sure give him or her a variety of flavors and textures. Don’t be afraid of spicing up your baby’s food with things like curry powder or letting them try sucking on a lemon! The more tastes they are introduced to early on, the easier it will be to get them to like (or, at least try) new foods later on.

If you’re past that stage and onto the, “but you used to love peas when you were little” stage, then first remember that it’s totally normal for toddlers’ tastes (and opinions!) to change (constantly) for various behavioral and instinctual reasons. (like back when we were hunter-gatherers, it was good to be wary of most foods once we were able to toddle around in the forest ourselves; don’t want to end up eating those poisonous berries!)

Here are some things you can do:

1. Get them involved! Take them to the grocery store and the farmers market. Even better, visit a local farm or try growing some veggies or herbs at home! It’s so much more exciting to pick out your fruit and veg (or pick them off the vine!)

2. Invite them into the kitchen! Your babe is never too young to get involved in cooking. They can start by sitting in their high chair in the kitchen and watching. Give them some food to play with while you cook and explain what each ingredient is. As they get older, they can help by stirring, dumping, placing, and sampling! This is not only a great way to teach them about different foods but they will also be practicing fine motor skills, sorting (place all the carrots in this bowl), and counting. And yes, there will be messes ¯_(ツ)_/¯

3. Read books like Can I Eat That? and Eating the Alphabet. You can also browse the pictures in cookbooks with your kids (one of my favorite things to do with Genevieve, while she pretends to eat everything!)

4. Don’t make special meals for anybody, but it’s ok to make special preparations. For example:
-Puree the veggies you are serving
-Deconstruct the meal (ie. if you are having soup you can take out the different ingredients in the soup and separate them on a plate, as well as serve a little bit of the whole soup in a bowl)
-Roll it up! Make it into a burrito – they are so much more fun to eat!
-Make it a pancake! My daughter will eat almost anything if it’s in pancake form!
Get creative to figure out what your kids like; toddlers are weird.

5. Lead by example. This is by far the most important thing you can do. If your kids see you eating healthy foods day in and day out, they will eventually want to try what Mommy’s having.

6. Happily gobble up what they discard. Sometimes this is all it takes for a toddler to eat, we all know they don’t like to share!

7. Offer over and over and over again. Don’t give up!

8. …But don’t push anything. No big deal if they don’t want it. You can try again another day.

9. Try to have a conversation during dinner that doesn’t involve you coaxing your little one to eat. Sometimes they will get distracted and start eating. Most times, they will yell and scream and cry and it’s impossible to have a conversation (or is that just what mine does?).

10. Try to figure out what motivates your little one to eat. The other day we got Genevieve to eat corn by telling her she would be able to see it in her poop, you just never know!

What works for you? Have you tried any of the tips that I’ve suggested above, or do you have a new one to share? Let me know in the comments!

One thing is for sure, every kid is different, and that’s what I’m here for. I can help with individualized plans to get your babe started out right or to help take the stress out of meal times with your toddler.

Originally published at mlbfamilywellness.com