How to Make Eating Healthy Fun for Children

How do I make food fun and appealing for my picky eating child.

"Mom, I'm hungry!"  "ooh, I don't like that!"  Sound familiar?  If your house becomes a restaurant at mealtimes where you feel the need to make a separate meal or snack for each child because of their individual tastes, maybe you could use some fresh fun ideas of how to serve the food for even the pickiest eaters to enjoy.  Of course, there will always be a few children who remain to be holdouts who just won't even give fun food a chance.  But; when you present food in a fun way, they just might surprise you.

Call it by a Different Name - Don't call it peas and carrots.  Call them balls and blocks.

Short Order Chef - Have your child help you prepare the food.  This may seem to be time consuming, but if they put some work and effort into making it, some children will be more likely to try what they accomplish to make.

Happy Bagel Smile Faces - Cut a bagel in half.  Spread cream cheese on each side (you can always use light cream cheese if you prefer or butter or jelly and such if your child prefers).  Take fruit pieces and slices to form eyes and happy mouths.  Or form goofy mouths.  Some fruits to try are raisins for eyes and an apple slice in the shape of a smile.  Be creative.

Cookie Cutter Shape Sandwiches - Make a sandwich of your choice.  When it's made, use a cookie cutter to cut the sandwich into fun shapes.  Use animal shapes or circles, moons, etc.  You can use any shape your child enjoys.  If your child loves trains, find a train cookie cutter.  You could even write his or her name or initials with Alphabet shaped cookie cutters.

Mini Self-made Sandwiches - Take some crackers and small pieces of cheese or lunch meat, etc.  Have child assemble their own mini sandwiches.

Sailboat Sandwiches - Put a straw or a popsicle stick with a triangle piece of paper taped to the top to form a sail or use a slice of cheese cut into a triangle.  When you stick it into the bread, it looks like a sailboat.

Play restaurant with your child.  You're playing restaurant anyway by preparing something different for each child.  So, why not make it a game and educational.  Let them take your order and then help them prepare the food and have them serve it with help.

Have a picnic on your living room floor - Lay down a picnic blanket and have an indoor picnic.  Sometimes, food looks more appealing when it's in a fun, no-pressure setting like a picnic.

Keep it Plain - Some children will try a variety of new foods as long as there's no sauces, etc. on it that are unappealing to them.  It's o.k. to keep theirs plain if they will eat it that way.

Dip it - On the other hand, some children will eat anything if it's dipped in the right sauce.  Use Ranch dressing or yogurt or ketchup, etc.  Some kids will even eat broccoli or green beans if dipped in the proper sauce.

In the end, some children will still dig their heels in and just not have any fun with their food other than wanting to throw it back at you.  Don't despair, as long as you're offering mostly healthy foods, they're bound to pick an item or two that appeals to them.  As they grow, chances are that their taste buds will also change.

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Colin Dovey
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Posted on Feb 11, 2010