Getting A Young Child To Finish The Meal Without Bribe Or Punishment

Big update: I just published the audiobook version of my free book, Solid Food 101. If you were about to read this post, I think you’ll love it. Listen to it here:

For some parents, this may seem easier said than done!

Getting a child to finish eating (and be satisfied with how much they’ve had) can be a challenge. Luckily, it’s been the very thing that works fantastic in our family – my son has never left anything sitting on the plate, and it isn’t because I’m serving small portions! He’s eating almost as much as I am, therefore, I actually have to limit them.

Keep one thing in mind, though: this is not intended to make you think that babies need to be stuffed with food. It’s okay for a child to say no and finish when they’ve truly had enough. I want to help you get your little one to eat appropriate portions that are needed and recommended. Don’t make your kid eat over the limits!

Here are some tips on how to help your child become a super-eater!

Serve the food appropriately

Is your baby eating mashed food, or you’ve already gone down the lead weaning road? Regardless, make sure that the food you’re serving is cut appropriately, so the child can enjoy the taste without being discouraged by lack of eating skills. Don’t be in a rush to lead-wean if your baby is only accepting purées. Every baby develops at their own pace!

Serve 1/2 of what they already love eating

If you’re having problems with introducing a new type of food, try the following: serve half of the portion of something your child likes. Give them one spoonful or a bite of that one, one of the new food. Over time, they will see the new food as something likeable, too.

I did this when I introduced spinach to my son – that may have been the only time he looked like he didn’t like something too much. I served half a plate full of pumpkin purée, while he other half was spinach. After two mixed meals, he was able to eat the spinach on its own with no issues at all!

Catch the fish

…or any animal at the bottom of your child’s plate. If you don’t have baby bowls or plates where there’s an animal drawing at the bottom – seriously – are you even parenting? (I mean, of course you are. But get yourself one of those.) Sometimes, all it takes is a fish hunt to get that plate cleaned!

Choo-choo train

This is the oldest trick in the book, but it still works. If you’re struggling with feeding your child, make a funny noise – anything they like – while feeding them. It makes them giggle every time, and absolutely more willing to eat their food.
Just make sure the baby isn’t laughing while food is in their mouth, to avoid the possibility of choking!

Read books about food

Get your child some books where they can see other kids eating. Tell a story, teach them about the importance of food during their playtime. Kids remember everything they’re interested in – so make it fun and get them motivated to be just as strong and as those kids in the book after a great meal!

Personally, I’m not a big fan of persuading children to do something seen in the books or TV, that they should do anyway (like eating). But hey, if it gets you through the day – by all means, try it!

Eat together

Kids learn from examples – make sure you’re eating (preferably the same food) too during their meal. It will encourage them!

Get rid of the excessive snacking

Your child may not want to finish their dinner because of that afternoon snack they had. Remember: it’s okay to go hungry before a big meal. It’s a healthy response from your body and your kid should learn to embrace it as a positive sign that they’ll enjoy their next meal. Snacking only makes it worse.

What do you think is a good way to help your child eat more? Is there a method you use that’s working? Share in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love my free bookSolid Food 101: How To Eat Healthy During Pregnancy, Prepare Food For Your Baby, And Establish Food Loving Mindset In Children!

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