Get Your Kid to Eat - Ground Work

Laying the Groundwork

Give your child a choice of meals. There’s never any guarantee, but she may be more likely to eat a meal that she’s asked for.

Don’t fight the food battle. Your child will not starve herself—get comfortable with this fact, and let her decide whether she’s hungry or not.

Take your child to the housewares store and let her pick out a special placemat, bowl, dish, fork, spoon, and cup. She’ll be more likely to use items she’s chosen herself.

Remember that most children have very short attention spans—usually not much more than fifteen minutes. If the meal is going to take longer than that, you’ll need to entertain her. Negotiate a deal—“You eat, and I’ll read.”

It’s a bad idea to eat while watching television, but listening to music during the meal is fine. Let your child pick the tunes.

Let your child taste things as you make them, telling her that you need her taste buds to make sure dinner tastes good.

Have your child hold the dinner timer and give her the responsibility of telling you when it beeps.

When the meal is ready, have your kid help serve or set the table. She will feel empowered and proud, and should be more willing to eat the food.

If your child insists on having ice cream or cookies or some other dessert instead of dinner, try to cut a deal. Sometimes, the old “dinner first, then ice cream” negotiation won’t work; so if you have a reasonable child on your hands, you might try the “one bite of dinner, one bite of ice cream” deal instead.

Don’t feed your child a meal away from the table—while she stands, while in the bath, while sitting in your lap before bed. While “seagulling” (swooping in for one bite at a time while running around) may get food into your child’s body, it doesn’t teach great table manners.


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