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How to Make Your Kid Eat…Something

So, I hear a lot of parents of young children struggling to get those children to eat the things the parents want them to eat.  I can sympathize with this plight and so I’ve decided to devote a whole entire post to advice on how to make your children eat the things you choose.

**disclaimer!  I am not a nutritional expert of any kind, nor am I a parenting expert.  However, I have the following qualifications:

  1. I have two children who have made it to a minimum of ten years old without suffering malnutrition, rickets, or scurvy.
  2. While my children often tell me that dinner looks gross, they always eat what is served.
  3. Unless I’m serving Brussels sprouts.  (I’m a mother, not a miracle worker.)

I’ve decided that it would be wrong and immoral of me not to share the experiences that awarded me this lofty achievement.  And so I will tell you how I manipulated taught my children to eat what I want them to eat (which is usually not pizza.  which is what they would choose for every meal, every day, forevermore).

Well, now, this is just unrealistic.  via www.delish.com

Well, now, this is just unrealistic. via http://www.delish.com

So, how to make a kid eat:

  1.  Give up.  (kind of)  If you’re dealing with a toddler, don’t even try it.  Kids this age only have so many ways that they can assert themselves, so they will certainly, absolutely, without a doubt assert their powerful little personalities by refusing whatever sustenance you choose to offer.  Let it slide.  This, too, shall pass.  Just keep offering the good stuff and pretend like you don’t care what they eat and one day you will find a clean plate.  I mean, it might not be until they’re eight or nine or twenty-seven, but one day, it will happen.
  2. Lie.  There may be someone who feels compelled to tell me that I shouldn’t lie to my children.  You are entitled to lie or not lie, as you see fit.  But my own mother told me egregious lies as recently as thirteen years ago when she told me that labor “isn’t that bad” and we still have a peachy relationship, so I maintain that not all lies are a bad thing.  Anyway, the lie that won this battle for me was when I convinced my youngest that your taste buds change every year, so you have to try something you don’t like at least once a year.  He bought into this whole-heartedly, and usually around his birthday each year, he starts eating a new variety of foods.
  3. Trickery.  When my kids were little, I would fix them a “tossed salad.”  That’s in quotes because it was really just a bowl of cucumbers and cottage cheese with one piece of lettuce drenched in Ranch dressing.  Those were the only parts of salad that they liked, so that’s what I gave them.  Over the years, I gradually added stuff, so stealthily that before they realized what had happened, they were eating honest to goodness green salad.  Children are adaptable little creatures.  You can make them eat any old thing if you just sneak it in gradually.
  4. Tell them they can’t have any.  I don’t care what you’re eating, if you tell your child that it’s only for you and they aren’t allowed to eat it, they will snatch it off your plate and stuff it in their gob in a hot second.
  5. Add cheese, Ranch or ketchup.  This should require no further explanation.


Take heart, my fellow frustrated mommies.  Kids are notorious for this.  You’re not alone, and I absolutely promise that there’s nothing wrong with the food you’re offering them.   One day your kids will start eating like normal people and everyone shall rejoice.  Until then, keep an extra bottle of ranch in the pantry.

  1. February 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Oh, I love number 4! Ingenious! How simple my dinnertimes would have been if I knew about this back in the day. Thanks for sharing!

    • February 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks – that’s a lesson learned only after the loss of many delicious treats. 😉

  2. February 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I will shuffle this away into my memory file to use when I’m saddled with moody munchkins. Brussels sprouts will never come out of my kitchen (bad childhood memories) so at least I’m already a step ahead! Now that I’m slightly optimistic, watch me get the kid that won’t even eat macaroni and cheese…

    • February 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      You will probably have a kid who won’t eat anything but Brussels sprouts. Kids are contrary like that. lol

  3. February 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    this is great! I will be putting some of this advice to good use tonight… wish me luck!

    • February 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      I hope it helps, and I wish you LOTS of luck, since I’m pretty sure luck is all that got me through the early years!

  4. Shelly Tennyson Taylor
    February 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    lol, this is great. I have an almost 3 year old who refuses to eat meat unless it is a piece of fish or bacon. She won’t even try pizza or spaghetti and meatballs. Her diet consists of breakfast (pretty much anything goes here) and sandwiches. She loves fruit which is good but it is a chore to get her to eat vegetables. This at least gives me hope that one day she will eat better!

    • February 17, 2013 at 6:42 am

      Oh yes, I had a little girl like that about ten years ago. She now eats anything you put in front of her, as long as it’s not mushrooms. There is hope, stay strong!:-)

  5. Wineness
    February 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    This is great! I don’t know how well it will work on my teenager… When he was younger he would always tell me I liked more kinds of food because old people have fewer taste buds so things don’t taste as strong to us. I actually found out this is true and it is a main reason you see old people putting so much salt on their food. Parenting is hard when your child is a walking fount of knowledge!

    • February 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Sounds like you have a real challenge there. I’m just wading into this with a teenager, and I know whole new challenges await…sigh.

  6. February 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    You have a great blog with a great perspective on parenting.

    • February 19, 2013 at 5:54 am

      That is so sweet of you to say. Thank you.

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