Little kids are notoriously picky eaters. Whether it's because they have delicate taste buds undulled by time, or are just refusing your food out of protest, sometimes it takes a few tricks to get them to eat healthfully. So I've done my fair share of cutting things into interesting shapes and separating ingredients to my kids' specifications. Generally, as long as they eat what's on their plate, I don't mind if we take a sort of meandering path to get there.
One trick a seasoned mom taught me — that my pediatrician signed off on — was luring the kids with condiments. Having something that they can pour onto their plate or dip into makes the whole meal interactive for a young child (because, let's be honest, they're not there to discuss the news). And while at first I stressed that adding condiments to a meal would fill my kids with the "bad" kinds of calories, sugar, or salt, my pediatrician assured me that really, as long as they encouraged my children to eat the healthy stuff underneath, it was worth it. Here are three condiments that I've learned make mealtime with a toddler better.
1. Heinz Ketchup, $2.50 for 20 ounces at Jet
It's an old standby — in fact, I remember a babysitter putting it on rice when I was a kid, and thinking that she was a genius. Now, I dole it out to my kids as a dip for meatloaf, sweet potato fries, or just about anything warm and savory. They love to squirt it onto the plate themselves (supervision definitely recommended) and the dunking keeps their hands busy so their little bodies can stay in their seats.
2. Hidden Valley Ranch, $3.50 for 16 ounces at Jet
This is a newer addition, recently discovered at a friend's house. For her kids, it was the only way they'd eat anything green; for my kids, it's more of a novelty to get them really excited for crudité when I'm out of dinner ideas or trying to get veggies on their plates and into their tummies.
3. Dannon Oikos Plain Traditional Greek Yogurt, $3 for 5.3 ounces at Jet
If you don't consider yogurt a condiment, there are some companies that would like to change your mind. A few months ago, Chobani released a squeezable pouch, branded with a brag that it contains less fat than sour cream. Dannon makes Kitchn's go-to Greek yogurt, and I recommend letting your kids dunk chicken bites and pieces of veggie burgers in it. Also, I use Greek yogurt to make our own ranch when I'm on a health kick.
Do you have any condiments that have helped you get picky eaters to try other foods? Share them below!