Creative Child

Parenting: Can't Get Your Kid To Eat? Make Mealtime a Fun Activity

by Deborah Song on Aug 21st, 2014

If it feels like your kids are on a perpetual eating strike (no matter what you make), try luring them in with this 3-step parenting & kids activity: whet appetites with a story, give veggies silly names, and put them in the chef's seat.

They may just bite!

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Whet Appetites with a Story:

Read a food-related story before cooking and eating, and the words and pictures on the pages will jump out when it's time for real life application. A fun children's book will not only get your child interested in good food but reading also. So have your cake and eat it too. Here are some favorites.

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1. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle: The beautiful illustrations and simple word construction make this book appropriate for all ages. The holes in the pages that the caterpillar ate through provide a great tactile component. It'll rev up your kids cravings to start washing food, chopping and mixing.

2. "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff: If you're thinking of baking with your little ones, give this one a whirl. It chronicles what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. He'll want some milk, of course.

3. "Nonna's Birthday Surprise" by Lidia Bastianich: What kid doesn't love a surprise birthday party? The part storybook, part cookbook also contains 18 recipes. So if you're searching for something to make with your kids, look no further.

parenting, cooking, eating, kids activities

Related Article: 20 Lunch Box Ideas

Give Veggies Silly Names:

Research shows children are twice as likely to eat vegetables if you give them fun names, such as calling tomatoes "squishy squirters" or broccoli "little trees." The names in the studies were not carefully concocted. They were casually created and kids were drawn to them. As Mike Wazowski says in Monster, Inc., "Once you name it, you get attached to it."

Put Your Child in the Chef's Seat:

Kids want to eat the foods they make. The great thing about cooking is there's something for everyone to do, whether it's washing, slicing or stirring. But to make cook time a fun and safe experience, you need to plan ahead.

1. Find time. You'll need an hour plus to cook with kids. So if dinnertime is always a frenzied dash, try breakfast or brunch on weekends. Also, choose a time when kids will be well rested and can focus.

2. Do the prep work before. Choose a simple recipe and think about the steps your child can partake in. Measuring ingredients beforehand like on cooking shows can prevent a mound of sugar from being poured into a bowl. And this way kids won't have to wait around.

3. Establish kitchen rules. It's the perfect opportunity to lay down some sanitary and safety regulations in the kitchen. Talk about which kitchen tasks are for grown-ups and which are for kids. Since you're putting rules in context, they'll be more apt to follow them.

Remember to compliment them and they'll feel empowered they had their little hands in creating a meal.

Bon appétit!

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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