Kids Who Eat *Almost* Anything

It’s the end of a long day. The husband worked a 12-hour shift. The kids and I had a playdate and a full homeschool day. Together we washed, dried, folded, and put away 4 loads of laundry. And now it’s dinner time. Together time. So we sit down to a delicious meal of liver and onions with a side of sautéed squash.


Yes, you read that right. My seven and four year old daughters will eat squash, and onions, and liver. How did this happen?

Getting the kids to eat well and eat unusual foods didn’t happen overnight, and it was definitely a trial and error endeavor. We’ve had a lot of misses along the way. We STILL have a lot of misses. Overall though, I believe my children have a healthy relationship with food. We’ve come across a lot of good advice and ideas along the way. Here is what has worked for us.

1. Start from the beginning.

With our oldest, we followed the norm and gave our daughter rice cereal and then moved to pureed fruits and vegetables. By the time I was pregnant with my second, I’d read about Baby Led Weaning. This is not weaning from breast or bottle; weaning here refers to when baby starts eating food other than breastmilk or formula. There are books and blogs dedicated to this, so I won’t spend much time explaining, other than certain milestones must be reached before baby can have solid food, generally around six months or older. From the time baby starts eating, she gets tiny bits of whatever the rest of the family is eating. I believe that my younger daughter has a better relationship with food than my older, because she ate it all from the start.

2. Be careful how you talk about food.

We all have at least one food that we just don’t like. That’s okay. My husband doesn’t like eggs and actually can’t stand the smell of them. We didn’t want to give our children a reason to not try eggs, so we decided not to make a big deal out of Daddy not liking them. We don’t mention it. In fact, we own chickens because of the eggs they provide. Sometimes he sucks it up and cooks eggs and bacon for the family for breakfast. He’ll just eat the bacon.

3. Cook one meal and don’t provide an alternative.

My oldest daughter won’t eat rice. I won’t make her eat it, but I won’t cook separately for her either. As a Louisiana cook, I make a fair amount of jambalaya and rice and gravy. My girl has learned to pick around the rice. There are no chicken nuggets or ham sandwiches on standby. This mama makes one meal. However, I will make sure there is a side dish she loves on nights when rice is a prominent ingredient in our main dish. If one of the kids is not eating, her plate stays on the dinner table until bedtime. Usually she’ll go back and eat a bite or two, even if it was “nasty” just an hour before.

4. Realize that children’s appetites can change.

Age three is both fun and terrifying. My pediatrician told me one thing that put my mind completely at ease about this age: their appetites can drastically decrease at this age, and it’s normal. If everything else is okay, normal growth, normal sleep patterns, and normal energy (or above normal energy, I should say), chances are a decreased appetite is nothing to lose sleep over. In other words, don’t force feed your child. Don’t turn meals into a battle. Barring unusual circumstances, he’ll eat if he’s hungry.

5. Allow kids to help!

I know, this can be stressful. And messy. My girls will each pull a chair up to the counter, completely blocking my access to it, so they can help cook. Take a deep breath and budget more time for dinner prep. Encourage their help. Let the little one stir something. Be brave and let the older one handle a real knife. When children are invested in their meal with their own time and energy, they’ll be more likely to eat it.

Honestly, my kids are not perfect eaters. I mean, my oldest won’t eat rice (is she really even from Louisiana?!). If I’m not careful, my youngest daughter will fill herself up on milk instead of eating her meal. Meal times are not idyllic and peaceful one hundred percent of the time. For the most part though, my children are willing to try new foods and have a fairly balanced diet. That’s really all I expect or ask.

Do your kids have a healthy relationship with food or not so much? Have you found something that works for your family?

Slightly unconventional and always willing to listen, learn, and grow, Sara is a teacher turned homeschooling mama to two daughters ages 7 and 4. Her beloved husband of ten years is a nurse, and together they are raising their girls (along with four hens and a garden of somewhat organic veggies) smack dab in the middle of their home city of Zachary. They are passionate about Jesus, each other, their daughters, alternative education, and healthful (and tasteful) eating – in that order. Sara’s first goal of homeschooling is to cultivate a love of learning and curiosity. Sometimes this looks like taking a break from the math book and studying entomology in the backyard instead! (Don’t worry, the girls are on par in math!) Day to day, she strives to give her daughters a healthy world view by teaching them to serve others with love and compassion and to live a life of contentment and gratitude.


  1. This is really great advice! Baby led weaning is a great start and so much easier than purees. I always serve food in its natural form. We also only have one meal but I try to have at least one thing on the plate that I know they like. The only other option is an apple or banana before bed. It’s so normal for kids to not like something the first or second time they try it so don’t stop offering it after one time. Keep trying! Chances are they will eventually like it. Great post!

    • Thank you Stacey! We also found baby led weaning to be so much simpler than purees. And, yes! Keep offering! That’s a very good point.

  2. I plan on doing this at least part time with my future children , since my husband and I both work outside of the home Like you, I went the traditional route with my 2yr old and notice that it is difficult to expand his palate. I also only cook one meal and serve a healthy, satisfying side that I know he will eat.


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