As a parent, your biggest responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of your child. Of course, you also want to raise him to be a capable, confident, and compassionate individual. But before you focus on developing your child’s personality, you need to make sure he receives the nutrition he needs to grow up healthy and strong, giving him a solid physical foundation on which to build. And this can be something of a chore if your kid is a picky eater. However, you can find ways to incorporate the nutrients your child needs into a diet that he’ll actually want to eat. Here are some tips to help you prepare the healthy, kid-friendly meals your child needs.
- Understand childhood nutrition. As an adult, you probably have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a balanced diet, appropriate portion sizes, adequate caloric intake, and so on. But your knowledge may not correlate to feeding your child. In fact, the nutritional needs of kids differ from those of adults in several ways. So it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about the nutritional needs of your child so that you have all the information you need to prepare healthy meals. Once you have this knowledge you can find ways to make recipes kid-friendly so that your child will actually want to eat them.
- Include nutrients in fun ways. Some parents have to resort to “hiding” fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious fare in their child’s diet. Considering that taste buds continue to develop over time, it’s not that surprising that kids dislike certain flavors. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they can get away with avoiding the nutritious foods they need for proper health. However, you can find fun and effective delivery methods with a little creativity. One fun option is fruit pops. You can get all kinds of interesting popsicle trays online. And then all you have to do is squeeze fresh fruit and vegetable juice or create nutritious smoothies (like green monsters) and freeze them for a tasty and nutritious snack. And that’s just one example.
- Work on presentation. Studies have shown that even young children are more likely to reach for food that is colorful, smells good, and is appealing to their other senses, which is probably why kids like fast food hamburgers better than the ones you make at home (they come in prettier packaging). So consider how you might up the ante on presentation in order to make a meal more appealing.
- Grow a garden. If you want kids to try fresh produce, there are several ways to go about it. But one fun option is to plant a fruit and vegetable garden. You could have kids pick out the seeds they want to plant and let them participate in the process of growing their own food. This might make them more amenable to trying new things, and it will put fresh enough produce on your table for the whole family to enjoy.
- Let kids help. Kids may be more likely to eat food that they’ve helped to create, so get them into the kitchen for lessons in home cooking. You can start by compiling a list of healthy recipes you think they might like from a site like RecipeChart.com, then let them pick ones they want to try making. Allow them to participate in the process and then enjoy the fruits of their labor, so to speak. Everything tastes better when you put in the time and effort to make it yourself, and kids can gain valuable life skills along the way.