The majority of new(ish) parents go on about the challenges of weaning. I was one of these parents too. Best described as a blur of mess, stress and distress, attempting to get your little one to try different flavours and textures is hard work.

However, weaning a baby is a walk in the park compared to trying to get your toddler to eat. I almost miss those baby days when I obliviously thought that I’d reached my limit of frustration, annoyance and despair as a blob of puree flew across the room and landed on the dog’s head. Little did I know about the impending toddlerdom.

Trying to get your toddler to sit down and eat a meal is bloody difficult. I think the most annoying thing about it is the unpredictability. Toddlers are more than capable of eating, but the success of the operation depends on their mood, the direction the wind blows and how much the FTSE 100 has changed overnight.

Let me give you an example. For the past two nights, we’ve eaten the same thing – a chicken and chorizo risotto. It’s been made in the same way with the exact same ingredients. However, Toddler L’s reaction has been poles apart. On the first night, she happily ate the contents of her plate and even asked for more chorizo. The following day, she turned her nose up at it and declared “me not like rice”. How, in the space of 24 hours, have her likes and tastes changed so much? I’ll tell you why – because she’s a toddler.

In an attempt to get her to eat her food on these ‘off’ days, I’ve found myself doing some pretty strange things. When the goal is to get food into your kid’s mouth and belly, you’ll pretty much do anything it takes – just ask the person who created the ‘my spoon is an aeroplane’ method. As such, I thought I’d share four things I’ve tried which have successfully got Toddler L to eat a few more spoonfuls of her food.

Reenacting Lady And The Tramp

You know the classic Disney film? Well, the iconic ‘dogs eating spaghetti’ scene worked as inspiration for a recent prawns and linguine meal we were eating. After faffing around with the food and barely eating any of it, I tentatively suggested that I put one end of the linguine in my mouth and Toddler L put the other in hers. It worked like a charm and she ended up eating the majority of her food – the downside was that it took ages to finish and I was pretty stuffed having eaten my meal and some of hers!

Lady and the Tramp
Things I didn’t think I’d do before I became a dad no. 836: Reenact the scene from ‘Lady and The Tramp’


Having A Feast With A Gruffalo

Toddler L loves all things Gruffalo, so turning what’s on her plate into a Gruffalo-inspired meal has served us well. By calling the different components of her food by names mentioned in the book – Gruffalo crumble, scrambled snake, roasted fox etc – it somehow gives her the motivation to not only try them, but enjoy them. It seems illogical for the adult mind, but it makes total sense to a toddler that a sausage called “scrambled snake” rather than “sausage” is somehow more appealing.

 Fork Off, That’s My Cutlery

At the moment, we’re going through a “me want fork and knife and spoon” phase. That’d be fine if she used them for their intended purpose, but she’d much prefer to bang on the table or make them chase each other around her plate. The other day, I offered her my adult fork in exchange for her toddler one. This did the trick and she started tucking into her grub straight away with her larger implement – the added benefit was that I felt like a giant when eating my food.

Toddler Cutlery
When you’re forced to eat dinner with toddler cutlery because she stole yours and won’t give it back.


The Little Bird Catches The Worm

We were eating a stir fry the other week. Correction. The missus and I were eating a stir fry the other week and Toddler L was showing no interest whatsoever. For some unknown reason, I decided to pick up a noodle, dangle it above her head (Toddler L’s, not the missus’) and start chirping like a bird. Despite me possibly having an undiagnosed case of avian flu, the tactic worked and Toddler L happily pretended to be a baby bird as I fed her the ‘worms’. That was one weird mealtime…

pretending to be birds so that she'll finish her dinner
Pretending we’re birds eating worms so that she’ll finish her dinner


So those are four of the things I’ve done to get my toddler to eat. Have you done any of these? What weird and wonderful ways have you persuadedthem to eat their food?


You can read more of Dave’s posts on his dad blog The DADventurer