7 ways to encourage toddlers to eat better and stay hydrated

I'm not sure about everyone else, but I have two little people that have very different tastes in food. Piper eats any and everything (even non-edibles) and Adri is the world's pickiest child.

Since Adri's been little, I have been working hard to encourage and develop her eating habits, and I attribute Piper's good eating habits to what I've learned with Adri.

Here are some of the things I've learned along the way that I've been applying to encourage both my kiddos to eat a healthy variety of foods and drink lots of water.

1. Keep it small. I've come to realize that my children hate having a ton of food set in front of them at one time. I keep the portions small and then add more as they eat it. This works well for something they don't like. I tell them to try it (usually no more than a mouthful or so) and then there's nothing left for them to have to finish since they already ate it.

2. Appealing. I've found that if I arrange the food or serve it in a way that they like they are more likely to eat it. I have a bunch of little wooden bowls and some small "cow" plates that they eat almost all their food off of. They like them because they are their dishes. I also try to cut veggies and fruit up and make them snack plates for lunch. They like to "graze" while they are playing, and they still eat plenty.

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3. Don't let them know that it's a food that they "shouldn't" like. I just offer them everything, and if Adri is wary, I encourage her that it tastes good and to try it. That said; my kiddos love veggies, all kinds of eggs, and fruit. This is my go-to cookbook for easy, toddler-friendly food ideas.

4. Teach them. I explained to Adri a few months ago that there where healthy food and "junk" food. She sobbed when she found out that potato chips were junk food ;). It's really helped though in the food department, and she now has a better grasp on why she can't just eat certain foods all the time (potato chips, ice cream, and chocolate).


5. Have water easily accessible. I keep mason jars full of water (we use these) around the house all the time at child level, That way, if they are thirsty they don't have to ask for a drink, they can just help themselves.

6. Make it taste good. While both my kiddos love water if I feel that they haven't bee drinking enough lately I will let them have some watered down juice or sparkling water (we get ours from Aldi) in addition to the water they are already drinking.

7. Always, always have water in the car. When we go on trips, I fill a bottle of water for Piper, as well as several water bottles for Adri and me. I make sure to offer water as often as I can, and never worry about the bathroom stops. It's better to stay hydrated and have to make a quick bathroom detour!

**One thing I've learned about eating habits is not to force it. A lot of Adi's pickiness comes from a texture thing. I learned to pay attention and ask her why she doesn't want a particular food. Often it's that she doesn't like it because it's "spicy," or "gross" (she don't like any meat that has weird stuff or colors on it, like the dark meat of chicken).

Okay, and true confessions, just so no one thinks I have the food thing down by any means.  My kiddos LOVE chicken nuggets and fries with a passion, beg for chocolate every morning, and would eat potato chips by the bag if I let them ;)