How to encourage a picky toddler to eat!

I’m so thankful to be able to share this guest post with you today from Gude. She is genuinely one of my favourite craft bloggers, whose blog I found when I guest edited the Mumsnet Craft Blogs Round Up. A couple of months later and I discovered (spooky music alert) that she is actually a friend from my teenage days (should have guessed that as her twitter profile is a picture of her drinking. Obviously we went to a school where we learnt all the important stuff!) I’m always in need of some hints on how to encouage a picky toddler to eat so I’ll be trying all of these ideas out soon, especially the dinosaur sandwich cutters which I am in love with! Anyway, here’s Gude…

how to encourage a picky toddler to eat

Hello I’m Gude from Hodge Podge, where I blog about crafting with, and for children.  I am so excited to be guest-posting for Kate (one of my very favourite bloggers) here at Crafts on Sea!

Do come and visit me at Hodge Podge or follow me on Twitter for more fun ideas @hodgepodgecraft
Hodge Podge walkingToddlers are more often than not, rather fussy about their food.  They love to eat the same familiar foods over and over again.  This drove me nuts with my eldest and had me yelling “How do you know you don’t like it until you’ve tried it?!”, but I’ve since learned that this pickiness can be explained as a survival mechanism – it makes sense for 2 year olds, who in most societies are walking about independently and no longer breast-feeding, to be wary of unfamiliar foodstuffs, which might poison them…

So how can we persuade our picky toddlers to try new foods (or at least eat something other than bread and butter or cake)?  Well, there are plenty of ideas on t’interwebs, but a lot of them are rather labour intensive.  I mean, who has time to carve hairstyles onto mini baby bels?  Seriously?!

So I had a good browse and put together the five best (i.e. easiest and tastiest!) ideas for creative food for toddlers here.  None of these should take you more than 5 minutes to prepare and will hopefully encourage your little one to tuck in to their meal!

1. Peanut butter and banana teddy bear toast from Mega Mommy A healthy and nutritious breakfast or snack – yum!

peanut butter teddy bear

2. Apple and marshmallow smiles from Never Listless – Great idea for a party or just a fun after school snack!

apple & marshmallow smiles

3 Rainbow fruit kebabs at Sumptuous Spoonfuls – who wouldn’t want to try these?

rainbow fruit kebabs

4. Mini pizza mummies from Weelicious – perfect for Halloween teatime!

mini pizza mummies

5. Quiche/frittata stars from Shine On – Erika provides her delicious healthy recipe, but if you are time-limited, you could easily do this with a shop-bought quiche using a cookie cutter (the star shapes are easier for little fingers to hold)…

quiche frittata stars

Here are a few more ideas that have (more often than not!) worked with my boys:

6. Involve your little ones as much as possible in the food preparation/cooking.  If they can join in with the stirring, measuring and pouring, mine are much more likely to eat the finished result.

7. Provide plenty of options/variety.  A plate with a little of several different things (sliced fresh fruit, mini sandwiches, cheese biscuits, dried fruit, a slice of ham, a handful of popcorn, some cherry tomatoes/chunks of cucumber or carrot) will mean that a picky toddler has plenty to choose from, even if they don’t fancy everything on offer.

8. Make it as easy as possible for yourself.  I tend to give mine one picnic type meal a day and one cooked one (in addition to breakfast).  This means I am less irritable if they decide not to eat it, as I’ve not spent all day cooking!

9. Keep foodstuffs separate where possible.  Pickle (almost 3 years old) will currently eat pasta, cheese and meat separately.  He may even choose to combine 2 or more of these, but he will not tolerate me presenting them together as one combined meal (spaghetti bolognese) on his plate.  Where they need to be combined (e.g. pizza toppings), I will encourage him to do this himself before it goes into the oven.

10. Invest in a smoothie-maker.  We can sneak all kinds of things into the kids so long as we whizz them up into a smoothie (exotic frozen fruits, peanut butter, avocado, nuts and seeds, etc) – they absolutely love it and it makes for some of the fastest, low-fuss breakfasts.

11. CHEAT!  I quite often construct a rather dull peanut butter or cheese spread sandwich and make it more appealing to the kids by cutting it with this dinosaur cutter – dinosaur sandwiches are way cooler than triangles!

dinosaur sandwich cutter

What are your tips and tricks for getting fussy toddlers to try more foods?  I would love to know!


  1. 10th October 2013 / 4:55 pm

    Great post and the Babybel hairstyles – so cute! But no, not something I’d mess about and do! Fortunately, my two eat well, though my daughter recently went through a phase of not wanting to try anything new. The best tip that I have for overcoming that is to provide a ‘buffet’ lunch. Putting loads of new and familiar things out in the middle of the table and allowing her to load up her own plate, meant that she actually ate more and we made a game of trying new things as her little brother tried everything!

  2. 10th October 2013 / 6:44 pm

    Love all these idea’s! although my son can spot fruit and veg at 50 feet 🙂

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