When your children are fussing about finishing their dinner, it can really put a damper on a time that is meant for family bonding and enjoying good food. Here are some sneaky ways that just might get your picky preschoolers eating.

Play a Game of Simon Says
If you’ve never played this game as a child, here is how it works: take turns going around the dinner table, letting everyone have a turn being Simon, the person who instructs everyone on what they must do, including himself (eat a big bite of broccoli, take a sip of your drink, tap your head).

Don’t disregard the silly actions, such as honking your nose, since these are the ones that will keep everyone entertained and keep the game going until that dinner plate is empty!

Teach Them About Their Taste Buds
Talk to your children about how their taste buds work and about the different flavours that their tongues can taste. Explain that it takes a few tries of a new food for their tongue to “understand” the new flavour (a simpler way of explaining the notion of acquiring the taste).

So, your child must make a deal with you to try at least one good-sized bite of each food on their plate at each sitting. Reassure your child that if they don’t like it after trying, that is alright.

The point is not to pressure your child into eating all the food on their plate unwillingly, but for them to learn to enjoy trying new foods and enjoy eating altogether. After a few times that the particular food has been tasted, he or she should acquire a taste for it. After trying this with my daughter, she immediately became excited to try different foods and broccoli is now her favourite vegetable!

Mix it Up
If there is one food that your toddler just can’t get enough of, then mix whatever they are unwilling to try into that food. My daughter was reluctant to try brussels sprouts, but after chopping them up and adding them into her rice, she gobbled everything up—problem solved!

If your toddler is a big pizza fan, like mine, try making whole grain tortilla pizzas. It’s very simple, quick, and can be very healthy if you load up on veggies such as broccoli and bell peppers.

The aim isn’t to camouflage the food, like pureeing it into a pasta sauce, but to find creative ways to make the food so they learn to like it. You can eventually eliminate the mixing and they will eat the food, like brussels sprouts, on its own.

Use Cookie Cutters
This trick might be all it takes if you are struggling with a food that can be easily shaped by cookie cutters; for example, cheese, bread, some fruits, etc. What’s fun here is that it’s easy to get the kids involved and then they might be more willing to eat their own creations.

Buon’ appetito!