[One Year and Beyond] Getting them to eat their veggies...or anything at all

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ahh. The dreaded meal time. And getting someone so little with such a big opinion on food to eat a meal. It can definitely be a challenge sometimes.

I hate to admit it, but I must have done something right at some point because I was blessed with a toddler who is a good eater. Maybe I am being rewarded for all of the time we spent when Mason was a baby buying liquid gold (aka Similac Alimentum) to feed him. He had such a bad tummy when he was a baby, I'm surprised he's so easy going with food now (knock on wood, please don't jinx it!). He loves fruits (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, etc.) and loves vegetables (green beans, broccoli, etc).

Eating broccoli // Eating fruits and veggies // Trying corn on the cob for the first time.

Of course he doesn't love this stuff as much as he loves junk food, but he will eat it without any problem, so I still consider it a win.

Pulled down the can of Cheetos by himself and helped himself to some snacks.

Now, saying that, you might think I don't have any advice on the topic. Oh how wrong you are. I have lots. My good eater? Not so good at sitting still during dinner time to eat his food. When you can get him to actually put the food in his mouth, chew, and swallow... amazing. But getting him to sit there and focus on eating is the problem. Creativity is key.


Breakfast on a weekday is a challenge. Since both of us work full time, it doesn't leave much time in the mornings for breakfast. When I work at 11am, it provides for the most time for breakfast so I try to provide a well balanced meal of Cheerios/waffles/mini pancakes, some fruit, and some yogurt. But when I work at 8am or 7am, it leaves a lot less time for a full meal at home. This is where creativity comes into play.

Waffles with strawberries & blueberries and a yogurt // eggs with avocado
Eggs, strawberries, and hash browns (aka tator tots) // Cheerios, waffles, blueberries and yogurt

I've known Mason for almost 23 months now. And if there's one thing that my son has taught me in those 23 months, it's that he is NOT a morning person. He may wake up early and trick you into thinking he's a morning person, but he is definitely not. Sometimes he is in a good mood when you go into his room to get him and sometimes he's not. Regardless of his mood, he's not a morning person. 

The second you get downstairs with him, it's like he knows we are in the vicinity of the fridge and HE NEEDS FOOD. So, Seth and I (being smarter than the toddler and having learned from our prior mistakes), have learned that we NEED to have milk ready for Mason the second he gets downstairs. Literally, if you don't, meltdown central erupts immediately. And most recently this includes a full blown laying on the ground, pounding his hands on the ground, crying fit. Fun times.

So I usually hand him his milk immediately, sit him down at his table or on the couch, turn on the Disney channel and get some Cheerios ready for him. He sucks down the milk in 10 seconds flat and I re-fill it for him. I finish getting ready and put his waffle in a to go tupperware and we head out the door. I hand him one piece of waffle at a time while in the car and driving to daycare and he eats the whole thing.

My secret for getting Mason to eat breakfast on a weekday? Feed him in the car.


Lunch is actually the easiest meal for us to feed Mason. I feel like it is the meal he is most willing to sit still and eat while at home. While these are examples of what I make for him to lunch (and snacks) for daycare, he eats very similarly at home.

I try to stick to the basics, things I know he will like. Recently he's been really into tortilla chips/snap pea crunchies/pirates booty so I try to incorporate that somehow. He also really likes turkey and ham so that is usually his "main dish" with some edamame and olives accompanying it. For fruit, he's been on a grapes and blueberries kick though I do substitute strawberries, bananas, watermelon, or raspberries occasionally. He LOVES apple sauce, avocado, and a fig newton for dessert, so I include that as well. I'm not sure what time Luz gives Mason each thing, but I do know that his containers come home empty every night.

For snacks at home, we usually offer Cheerios with blueberries or dried cranberries, gold fish, a pouch, some fruit, cheese and crackers, pirates booty, etc.

My secret to get Mason to eat lunch? Have someone who is not mommy or daddy feed him. Seriously! But seriously, I'd say the secret is to stick to something tried and true. Things you know they will like. And throw in a little something "bad" for them. Hey, why not? You made it all the way to noon without a meltdown, that's cause for celebration!


Dinner is a whole other ball game. Sometimes Mason comes home from daycare famished and needing dinner RIGHT AWAY. Other nights he's fine waiting until whenever. Depending upon his mood when he gets home depends on if he will eat what we're eating or if I make something special for him.

If I make something special...

If he eats with us.

He used to eat in his high chair, but recently we've been sitting him at the little table that we made for him. The high chair provided challenges, but the table provides a whole new type of challenge. Before we switched the to the table, Mason thought it was funny to throw all his food off his tray on his high chair and on to the floor. All my hard work, all over the floor. The more we said no and told him not too...the more he did it. We tried to incorporate forks into the mix to distract him and to get him to try to pick up the food on his fork by himself. This worked sometimes but other times not. Sometimes I had to substitute my fork to trick the toddler. Whatever gets him to eat, I'm all for trying.

Just the other night, Mason refused to sit in his chair at his table to eat dinner. He kept getting up to walk around and kept sitting in his Anywhere chair. So what did we do? We put the table in front of his Anywhere chair and he ate his dinner there.

And just last night? He refused to eat dinner until I sat there and picked up every single piece of food from his plate and put it in his mouth for him. Annoying for me? Sure. But he ate a whole plate of broccoli, chicken, cheese, and olives. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

My secret for getting Mason to eat dinner? Be creative. For some reason, he will eat off of my plate, but not his. And sometimes we are having the EXACT same thing. But if it gets him to eat, he can eat mine and I will eat his. Or I let him use my fork to show him that he is a big boy using a "big kid fork". Or sometimes I will put his food on his/my fork and pretend to eat it. I explain how good it is and how I would love to eat it if he won't, and this usually prompts him to grab the fork out of my hand and put it in his mouth because he doesn't want me to eat his good food.

One thing Mason doesn't need help with? 

...and drinking other people's drinks.

You leave your drink unattended and in Mason's world, it's fair game.

So while it is definitely one of the most challenging things to do as a parent, it is so important that the kids get the nutrition that they need. So, if you have to be creative, do it. If you have to do something you swore you would never do (like let your kids watch tv during dinner), do it. If you need to let your kid eat french fries and gold fish for dinner because he refuses to eat everything else, do it (and I've done it).

My advice on getting your kid to eat? 

Creativity and patience.
And know it is just a phase.

It may not be in the "parent of the year" handbook, but it works for us, so we're sticking to it.


Linking up with Sara from Running from the LawAshley from Words About WaverlyCourtney from From Here to Eternity and the other lovely co-hostesses of the One Year and Beyond series.


  1. my fave is the tiny fig newton in the big bowl. so stingy mom! Aria doesn't like the classic kid foods - mac and cheese, chicken tenders, pizza, etc. Other than that she is a pretty good eater, and she eats what we eat. Although I like pizza, mac and cheese, and chicken tenders....she'd rather have veggies. Clearly not my child.

  2. I think I'm gonna set him up at his little table to eat sometimes in the new house too! Question... Do you buy frozen or fresh veggies? I need to start giving Noah more and not sure what to do. And do you buy edamame in the pods and have to remove them all for him? I've only ever had it in Asian restaurants ;).

  3. i love your breakfast ideas!! its hard to come up with new creative good breakfasts-- not that lex actually EATS breakfast. and lex eats exactly NOTHING from her lunch at school! i have to feed it to her when she gets home. . . and i love how mason eats off YOUR plate. that's kinda really cute :)

  4. Great tips. This is totally how we do it..whatever gets them to eat. Sometimes with our 4 year old, if he refuses to eat dinner and it's something that's reasonable to eat, I just say, ok, it's your bedtime snack...then I put it in the fridge and if he's hungry before bed (which he usually is!), he'll eat it.

  5. I always enjoy seeing what other mommas feed their kids. Looks like some great meals!! We've been noticing our little guy likes to use our fork, rather than his own, or eat from our plates (even though it's the same thing). He gets in a few more bites, so whatever works. :)

  6. Connor hates meat this week. That along with the fact that he has a dairy allergy makes for tough meal times. But he'll bounce back and be my good eater again! Or so I hope.

  7. You are so lucky to have such a good eater! I feel like we have the same meals on repeat every.single.day. And, meat? Forget it. Veggies, eh, sometimes (if the food gods like me on any particular day).

  8. Oh my gosh, Mia is obsessed with everyone elses drinks as well! Too funny!
    Girl, his meals look awesome! You're amazing! One thing I do to make breakfasts easier for us? I make a huge batch of scrambled eggs (red potatoes, eggs, spinach, cheese, seasonings) and stick it in tupperware. I warm it up for Mia each morning (or I don't, lately she's into eating it straight from the fridge, YUCK!) and Eric and I use it for breakfast burrito filling. I can't do straight up re-heated eggs so when I'm cooking a tortilla (from costco) I throw the eggs on it, fold the tortilla in half and cook on both sides. It heats the eggs all the way through, I add salsa and I pretend like it was just freshly made :) But it totally helps having it premade with Mia because we have to feed her as soon as she wakes up as well!

  9. I fully understand the milk thing - although Callie is a totally morning person - we get her milk ready the night before to be able to hand it right to her. Milk is like liquid gold here - it will calm her down for anything! I love the snack cups you have for his lunch and you've got way more variety in his foods -- I need to work on that!


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