For quite some time, Leilah has been an extremely picky eater. I know that a majority of kids go through this at some point in their lives. It is a part of becoming more independent and wanting to be in control. I am totally all for her trying out her independence and learning to do things on her own. But, when it comes to her having bad eating habits, I want to do do whatever I can to prevent it.
Ever since Leilah was a baby we tried to give her a variety of foods. For a while she was pretty adventurous and would try just about anything we put in front of her. Even salmon, Pakistani food, a variety of veggies and fruits. But, one day she started refusing foods she had once loved. It’s like a switch went off and she just decided she didn’t have to eat it if she didn’t want to. So, some things I stopped even offering her because I knew it would just go to waste. I probably should have been more diligent then. Let’s be real though, it becomes super annoying to make 3 different options for each meal time. And in my mind, she is too young for the “if you don’t eat this, you don’t eat at all” method.
So, once she started having a meltdown with almost every meal, I decided to make it more fun for her to try new foods. She, like just about any other two and a half year old, goes crazy for stickers. I decided to get weekly calendars and write each meal down for the days. I stocked up on a ton of stickers from the Target dollar section, also my mom gave us a nice assortment as well. Then, if she makes it through a meal without a fit, tries a new food, or feeds herself, she gets to pick out which sticker she wants and put it on the calendar. Now, at the end of the week if she has reached a certain number of successful meals, she gets one small toy. For a couple weeks she was working towards a plush Owlette doll. Anyone else’s kids obsessed with PJ Masks?
I put this chart in her play room so she can go in and see her progress and recall her good days and bad days. We talk about when she was successful and when she had struggled. Since I started this chart a month ago, I have noticed that she is a lot more willing to try something out of her comfort zone.
Since she is still a carb lover, and a toddler, a lot of her meals look like this. But still, eating it without throwing a fit is successful for her. She also loves to wear only one sock, usually one of her baby sisters, so this is a typical look for her.
Target’s dollar section has the hook up for stickers you guys! She freaks out whenever these come out and she gets to choose which one goes on the chart.
I won’t lie, sometimes it takes her 10 minutes just to choose a sticker. But, this is her victory so she gets to make her own decision about it!
And that is how simple it is to make her feel successful and accomplished. I think that her being able to actually see her accomplishments on the wall makes her feel great.
Other tips that have helped her get through a meal:
- Always have parmesan cheese on hand. Leilah calls them “sprinkles” and it makes so many meals more enjoyable for her. Plus, lets be real, its delish.
- Have the stickers on the table so it’s in the line of vision. This helps her see what she’s working towards in case she forgets.
- Sit down to meals together. Instead of just leaving her alone at the table and going about my business. I try to sit and eat each meal with her. However, some days she doesn’t want to sit at all and wants to run around playing while taking bites between.
Honestly, whatever works to get the kid fed.
Since Target’s dollar section is always changing I say just stock up when you see some you like. I’ll also list below some of my fav’s from Amazon!
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