(NaturalNews) Babies are so sweet. What's difficult about an infant is not the same as what's difficult about having a toddler or preschooler. You've traded in sleepless nights for power struggles. Your child is a little person, with thoughts, ideas, and feelings of his own. And they don't always coincide with yours.
One thing kids are often opinionated about, right from the start, is food. Who wouldn't be? Most parents have pictures and fond memories of that time they fed their baby something that made him shiver and grimace. And we have to respect that, to a point. So what's a parent to do when he decides he's not having vegetables?
10 tips and tricks for improving your child's diet
Beating your head against a brick wall only makes for a headache, so try a new strategy. You're older and wiser - get clever and creative.
First, review. This includes your commitment to your child's diet, your attitude toward your own diet, and how you parent your way through the power struggles.
Next, plan your approach. What's your rule/rules going to be? Consequences, rewards? Consistency is important. Decide now not to get suckered into being a short order cook - what's for dinner is what's for dinner. Can you be okay with letting your kid be hungry if he chooses not to eat?
Make a menu. Try to put something new in front of your child a couple times a week. If he doesn't like boiled spinach, try giving it to him raw next time. You'll need to experiment some by trying different foods different ways on different days. Reward a good attitude and for trying new things.
Set up for success. To succeed, stock the veggies and model the behavior you want to see in your child. Make them easily accessible - kids eat a lot more fruits and veggies if its cut up and sitting in front of them. You can act when you need to. Don't like tomatoes, but junior does? "Oh, yes! That looks delicious! Good job!"
Keep communication open with your child. He tries at least one bite of what you offer, and if he doesn't like it, then you don't force him to eat it. Choose your words carefully at this juncture, being sure not to label or categorize the food. "We'll try it a different way next time, maybe with cinnamon" versus "oh, I guess you don't like sweet potatoes either."
Do some PR. Help your child make the connection between how certain foods make him feel. Explain why something is good for him or not. He ate sugar on an empty stomach and got a tummy ache. It's not good to eat sweets if you haven't had good food first. He had raspberries and whole grain toast for breakfast before he aced that test, because its brain food.
Make it fun. Chop up something green and add sprinkles to what your child eats. Finely chopped spinach or kale mixed into eggs makes green eggs. Peanut butter in celery sticks with raisins on top makes "ants on a log." Let them pretend to be dinosaurs eating trees when they eat broccoli.
Make it a treat. Smoothies are a great way to mix up some fun and mix in some nutrient dense foods. Some kids like dips and sauces. This is where gardening, cooking, and meal time can equal family time, which will help make it a favorite of your kids. They love to help, and then they are invested, and more likely to try it.
Slip it in. You can add veggies to meatloaf, spaghetti sauce or lasagna, and all kinds of dishes and they'll never know. There are some great cookbooks and recipes (check out Jessica Seinfeld's cookbooks) that show you how to use pureed veggies in place of other ingredients, such as sugar. This is a bonus for your side because it gets the veggies in while keeping extra sugar, oil, butter, etc., out.
Limit bad food. This is important for obvious reasons, but worth mentioning is that kids are designed to favor sweet foods, but the sweet foods nature intended was fruit, not sugar. The more sugar they consume, the further out of balance they get. Sugar is addictive, and makes them want nothing that isn't sweet. If fried and processed foods are bad for you, think how much worse they are for someone still growing, with a smaller body. Fruits have enzymes and fiber and other nutrients that juices and sweets don't, so stick with real food.
Every family is different so try some of these tips and see if they work for you. Vegetables are a requirement for a healthy life so don't give up. Good luck!