getting a toddler to eat, dining out with a toddler

If you know of something more frustrating then trying to get a toddler to eat, I’d sure like to hear about it. On Monday, they can’t get enough green beans. On Tuesday, they won’t even try a green bean, and on Wednesday they’ve decided they’re no longer eating altogether.

But just because they refuse something does not mean it’s over. You just have to switch up the presentation.

Slice it differently

grilled cheese sandwich


I used to serve my daughter a grilled cheese sandwich cut up into bite-sized pieces. Now that she’s sporting nine teeth, she probably does not require this step, but it was habitual to cut it up that way. Well, one day she decided that she no longer eats grilled cheese. I had all but given up until making one last ditch effort of cutting her sandwich in half. I told her to “take bites.” She picked it up like a big girl and announced “bite” with every bite. It was the same sandwich, but this time she was eating it. She just wanted to hold it on her own. A grilled cheese sandwich cut up into small bites? Not happening. Cut it in half and she’ll ask for more. She likes grilled cheese…what she didn’t like was my presentation.

Call it “dip”

maple mashed sweet potatoes


My daughter used to inhale baked sweet potatoes. It was my never fail, no-questions-asked go-to…until it wasn’t. Now she just says “no,” holding her hand up in my face when she sees them coming. She won’t even try them. Recently, I decided to present the sweet potato in a cup (skin-removed) and called it “dip.” I handed her a cracker and sat back to watch the show. She loved it. And she didn’t even eat the cracker! She used it as a spoon and finished the entire sweet potato. The “dip” was something new and fun for her. I just had to switch up my presentation.

Change the serving vessel



My girl loves blueberries. One day I gave them to her in a handy travel snack cup as we were leaving the house. She wouldn’t touch them. I assumed she no longer liked blueberries but when my husband served them to her on her plate later that evening, she ate them. All of them. It was just about the presentation. The kid clearly feels strongly that blueberries belong on a plate and not in a snack cup.

“Mommy’s turn, your turn”

If I take a bite of my daughter’s food first, saying “mommy’s turn” and then hand her the spoon and say “your turn,” she eats. It’s fun and interactive. Try it. Just be prepared to take a lot of bites of whatever you made for your kid because sometimes this game can go into overtime.

Use cookie cutters

star shaped sandwiches


A presentation that never fails on a toddler? SHAPES. My friend uses a cookie cutter to serve sandwiches to her kids. Now it’s not just a PB&J, it’s as a star or a Christmas tree. Whatever tickles your little one’s fancy. If they made an Elmo cookie cutter, all of my food woes would be solved.

Serve it to yourself

dining out with a toddler

Erin Washington

If any presentation of your child’s meal is met with misfortune, just present the meal as your own. Sometimes I pretend to eat my daughter’s meal myself. I put it on my plate, sit at the table and make a lot of “mmmmms.” Every time, she comes right over, asking for bites. She ends up finishing a meal that was meant for her in the first place. WIN.

Just because your toddler is refusing a certain food, does NOT mean they won’t eat it. Get creative. Switch it up.

Happy feeding.

Erin Washington is a first-time mom from Leesburg, VA. She enjoys good wine, toddler fashion, and naps. See more from Erin at Rookie In This Mom Game and @theplaygroundfashionista.
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