Whether your children have always been picky eaters or just recently became finicky with food, you face a daily battle at the breakfast table. One child won’t eat anything but eggs while another one refuses to eat anything that isn’t orange in color (orange juice, cantaloupe or peach yogurt). To keep you from starting every day with a breakfast war, try these stress-free breakfast tips to feed your picky eaters.
Make meals fun
Kids are born to be entertained and if breakfast ranks low on the fun-o-meter, they show their disappointment by refusing to eat. Or they make breakfast fun in their own way by eating only certain foods and nixing others.
Try these entertaining breakfast ideas:
- Have your kids make up stories about their bowls of cold cereal or scrambled eggs.
- Play the name game, letting your children whimsically name their meals.
- Encourage your kids to make breakfast as colorful as possible with an assortment of fruit.
- Use cookie cutters or molds to turn toast, pancakes, waffles, eggs and fruit into fun to eat shapes.
The biggest concern of moms with picky eaters is if their kids are getting their daily need of vitamins and minerals, especially if their kids dislike fruits and vegetables. A seamless way to boost their intake of fresh produce is to make it a covert part of their morning meal. For example, make smoothies for breakfast, adding at least one fruit – or even vegetable – to the blender. Swirl fruit puree into oatmeal or blend fruit with milk for cold cereal (keep fruit milk to a pourable consistency). And rest easy if your picky eaters prefer cold cereal – cereals made with whold grains are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Introduce new foods to the whole family
Instead of singling out your picky eater to try a new food, introduce foods that are new to the whole family. With their vibrant colors and funky shapes, tropical fruits are always a fun option. You can also try new breakfast recipes that you’ve never made before. By involving the entire family in this new experience, your picky eater won’t be put on the spot. If other family members show excitement about an unfamiliar dish, your finicky child may prove to be less finicky. Though your picky eater is painfully choosy about certain foods, it will still prove beneficial for you to be a role model in being open-minded and excited at the breakfast table.
Get your picky eaters involved
Rallying your kids to help plan and prepare breakfast will get them more interested in eating a variety of foods. For instance, let the child who loves eggs crack them into a bowl and beat them with a whisk and let the child who prefers cold cereal to get it out of the pantry and pour it into bowls. But let them only do things pertaining to their preferred foods. Eventually, they will want to learn more and – no doubt – do what the other sibling is doing, giving you the opportunity to tell them they have to eat what they help prepare. In addition, let your picky eaters help plan meals – on the condition they don’t suggest the same breakfast every morning.
Don’t make breakfast a battleground
Despite your concern for the health of your picky eaters, don’t wage a war every morning trying to get them to eat foods they say they don’t like. Calmly talk with them about their morning meal – why they like or dislike certain foods, what foods they might be willing to try, foods they haven’t tried but would like to taste, etc. Then devise a plan to include foods they prefer as well as foods on their “willing to try” list. If your picky eater loves cereal but shuns fruit, yet would be willing to try raspberries, add raspberries to the cold cereal. If your finicky child refuses to eat foods that aren’t orange but would be willing to try a yellow food, add banana slices and diced papaya to a bowl of orange segments to make an orange and yellow fruit salad.
Just think back to when you were a kid – if your parents adamantly told you that you hadto do something, you became even more opposed to the idea. Instead of fight with your picky eaters, help them develop a healthy relationship with food – particularly breakfast, the most important meal of the day.