Let’s start with Duane’s example:
This hardly counts as a hack but I thought you’d find it cute. We’re trying to get better at enforcing the "nobody gets down from the dinner table, nobody has dessert until everybody is finished with their dinner" rule in the house, which means attention must be paid to the two year-old boy.
I’m on duty and am told, "Get your son to eat his carrots." On his plate are baby carrots, ziti, and a few other things. Creativity strikes, and I stick the baby carrots in the ziti. They look like little orange hot dogs. Not only does the little guy go crazy for them (he immediately starts trying to make his own), but my 6 year-old daughters gets in on the act and starts making them as well. I have no idea how it tasted, but they didn’t seem to care :).
Okay. Here’s one of those times when one of my abstract parenting philosophies conflicts with real-life kid-raising. I’ve always felt that one shouldn’t resort to presentation antics in order to get kids to eat. Food is nourishment, not entertainment. Smiley face pizzas? Please.
I have two super-finicky kids. Who only eat the "plain" versions of what I prepare for dinner. Who reject entire categories of food. So who do you think has stuck steamed broccoli spears into a bed of rice and presenting them as "baby trees?"
Another example: my kids used to only eat plain spaghetti until my husband copped a fake Italian accent, started singing fake opera while cooking, and dubbed his basic tomato/basil preparation "Daddy’s Special Sauce." The kids devoured it and declared it "the best meal they’d ever had."
I realize that this discussion assumes that one should try to convince one’s kids to eat. That assumption is questionable; many, including Ellen Satter, who I greatly respect, suggest that you should simply put the food on the table and then let the kids take it from there. For the purposes of this conversation, however, let’s just go down this road a bit farther.
So. Tell us the silly, ridiculous, bizarre or otherwise entertaining ways you’ve marketed food to your kids. I’m not talking Mickey Mouse pancakes here (because who doesn’t like pancakes?); I’m looking for the crazy-measures-to-get-kids-to-eat stuff.
Here’s what my Twitter buddies came up with:
jenlicata: "We’ve told them that certain foods will make them make certain noises (like eating this bean will make you baa like a sheep)."
Flippee: "Give them a straw for thin food such as soup, yogurt, etc."
MayberryMom: Creates a face out of whatever’s on the plate. (Piles of black beans for eyes, ketchup for a mouth, etc.)
kiddio: Calls the plum pits "dinosaur eggs."
robnh: Offers to "smash" any rejected food. Then her daughter will eat it. Hm. A texture thing maybe?
leeanthro: Finds everything gets eaten when using chopsticks.