Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) where your perfect little angel won’t eat any of the perfectly healthy foods that you have painstakingly made for them? Well, you are not alone! This is a very common concern among parents of toddlers and preschoolers, and here are a few fun food ideas that will help make foods disappear while incorporating learning activities, making you Mommy the Food Magician.
- Layering – Let your child build their own healthy pizza on a piece of whole wheat pita, making sure to have lots of different veggies to choose from. Demonstrate how to build a sliced mushroom tower or use thinly sliced red and green peppers to make a train track across the pita. Try the My Favorite Mini-Pizza recipe; it’s perfect for stage 4 toddlers.
- Building – Building can be a fun way to help kids focus on the foods in front of them during meal and snack time. Try giving your child a few pieces of pretzel sticks and some cheese cubes and show them how to build a stick man and then eat him. You’d be surprised how quickly the stick people disappear. Another fun building activity is creating fruit skewers. Chop several different types of fruits and let your child build their own perfect fruit skewer. I like to use plastic drink stirrer as they don’t usually have a sharp pointy tip. This is also a great way to get your toddler to try new fruits!
Building and layering are entertaining and effective fine motor skill development activities for toddlers. Although playing with one’s food creates a slight mess, it is worth the time in clean up to see your child enjoying meals that also incorporates a fun learning activity.
Another favorite food activity of mine for children who are a little bit older (around preschool to kindergarten) is making food patterns. Children of this age are often just learning to recreate patterns. For example, take a plastic drink stirrer and make a simple pattern of fruit by layering a slice of banana, followed by a piece of strawberry. Have your child repeat the pattern and watch as your little one quickly picks up this new skill through play and then goes on to devour the tasty fruit.
Presenting food to picky eaters can be discouraging, but don’t lose hope. Try one of these building or stacking activities this week for a change of pace and a new way to introduce a few healthy foods to your family.