Small Kids and Food | How to Cope

Small Kids and Food | How to Cope

When it comes to small children and eating habits, there’s just no sense in trying to make sense of it all. Some days they’ll eat anything you put in front of them, and some days they want nothing but animal crackers dipped in ketchup…off your plate…and only if they can eat them under the table wearing a bathrobe and a Spiderman mask. When you’re worried about getting good, nutritious food into your little one’s tummy, it can be exasperating.

The good news is that there’s usually not much to worry about. Your child’s day-to-day diet is not nearly as important as the overall picture, and the pickiness they exhibit is actually a very normal part of asserting their independence and newly-discovered ability to make choices. I’m a firm believer that mealtime should be as peaceful and stress-free as possible, so here are a few of my favorite tips for filling up those little bellies without a fuss.

bento lunch for kidsIf your little one is a snacker, GO with it! Think “bento”, but don’t feel like you have to create those fancy little creations you see on Pinterest. Simple cutting food into bite-sized cubes and displaying it in a cute divided tray, muffin tin or ice cube tray is probably enough to catch your child’s eye. Presenting a bunch of different choices might seem time-consuming at first, but it’s really just a great way to use up those odds and ends that might otherwise get wasted.  A few blueberries, some cheese cubes, a small pile of black beans, some whole-grain pretzel sticks…you get the idea.

Slam DUNK. It’s undeniable: kids love to dip things.  In most cases, if they can dunk it, they will eat it. Use that to your advantage with dips that carry lots of nutrients. Mix vanilla yogurt with peanut butter for a delicious fruit dip that tastes like icing, with protein and calcium! (Just save some for the kids, mmkay?) Is your child a ranch fanatic? Finely chop some baby spinach in your food processor and mix it in, then make up a fun name for it (Green goo, anyone?) No matter what they’re dipping, they’ll get more power-packed nutrients in every bite.

Give them the POWER. (Or at least let them think they have it.) How many times a day does your toddler or preschooler say “No! I can do it myself!” Again, it’s that “asserting themselves” thing, and it’s important. They want to learn and achieve, so let them! Allow them to make choices in the grocery store or at the farmer’s market, get dirty in the garden or help mix things up in the kitchen. As their pride in their achievements and ability to help grows, so will their appetite for the foods they create.

This post was written by Wendy from ABC’s and Garden Peas.


ABCs Header


  1. Karla-Rae Krekoski says

    know what’s funny? i have snackers and i haven’t ever thought to portion out their food in little trays like that – genius idea thanks!

  2. Pamela Halligan says

    Go, Dunk, Power – I like it. I try to go with the snacking by providing healthy options. Kids love to dunk things, so I give them fat free ranch dressing with vegetables. I, too, have found that power goes along way towards promoting healthy eating habits. Thanks for the post.

  3. My child is 15. I wonder if this would work for him – a self-certified “meat-a-tarian”. LOL

  4. Jennifer Hedden says

    I love these tips to get the little ones to eat especially the idea of the bento container. It is true kids love to dip things. I love the idea of sneaking spinach into ranch dressing! Thank you for the awesome post!

  5. That is an awesome idea. They love those lunchables and you really don’t know what’s in there. So this is a perfect idea. Thanks for sharing.

Add Your Comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.