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Toys and Media to Get Kids Excited about Food

Do you have a picky eater on your hands? Or perhaps a serial snacker? Oh parents, we feel you.

There are few things more frustrating than putting in all the work that goes into making a meal (from shopping, to prepping food, to cooking, to setting the table, etc.) only to be met with “I don’t like it” from your toddler (who doesn’t even bother trying it).

How do you motivate little ones with finicky palettes to eat something other than Mac n’ Cheese and energy bars? Don’t just hide the spinach in the sauce… Instead, teach them about the importance of nourishing their bodies with nutritious wholesome ingredients and about what different foods do to our bodies. In the long run, extending nutritional know-how will help our children take care of their bodies on their own and have a positive and intentional relationship with food.

See also: How to Feed Toddlers & How To Include Kids in Mealtime.

It turns out, learning about food doesn’t have to be limited to the dinner table. In fact, there are many tools that can help you in your quest to make mealtime battles a thing of the past. One of them: media and playtime. That’s right, Elmo & Co have a thing or two to teach all of us about nutrition.

Here are some of our favorite shows, books, gift/subscription boxes and toys that revolve around food, nutrition and the importance of trying new ingredients.


Shows & Series

Waffles + Mochi

Two food-obsessed puppet pals take our kiddos around the world to explore cultures, foods and the art of cooking with fresh ingredients. When they try new food? They go beyond “I love or don’t love it” and talk about their experiences with the foods — taste and textures alike. It’s a sweet, inclusive show with a roster of names you’ll likely recognize.

Daniel Tiger Tries a New Food

This episode, along with “Be a Vegetable Taster,” shows the importance of testing new foods. If you’re trying to avoid screens or simply prefer to read with your little one, it also comes in book format.

Sesame Street: Healthy Foods episodes

Sesame Street has a bunch of episodes tackling the importance of healthy culinary decisions. If your kiddo is a fan of Elmo and the whole gang, this may be an easy sell.

Ask the StoryBots: Why Can’t I Eat Dessert All the Time

“You are what you eat!” In this episode, a piece of broccoli and a cupcake explain to the StoryBots about proper nutrition, how the digestive system transforms food into energy, and how what you choose to eat correlates with how healthy your body is.


Books

Cook in a Book: Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book

This interactive board book walks tiny readers through how to make tacos. We love the colorful and playful visuals AND the fact that it’s a *real (simplified recipe). This book is part of a series, which comes complete with Pizza! and Pancakes!

I Can’t Eat this Stuff

Do you have a picky eater? Louie (the cutest little elephant) to the rescue! In this book, Louie helps children find the courage to reach the milestone that is trying a new food… one tiny taste at a time. We love the rhythm and rhymes of this book, as well as the cute illustrations.

Get Your Dragon to Eat Healthy Food

We love the My Dragon book series. In this volume, Dragon only eats junk and processed foods and eventually learns the value of eating healthy, varied foods — and children follow along on his journey. *This book is a particularly good choice for those snack-lovers of ours who may need a little nudge (and a fun role model) to stop asking for snacks.


Subscription Boxes

Raddish Kids

This monthly subscription box teaches kids 4 to 14 (parents encouraged to help younger children) cooking skills and instills confidence in the kitchen. Each monthly box features a unique culinary theme and comes with 3 recipe guides, a shopping list, kitchen tools and other crafty goodies.

Eat2Explore

This subscription box is catered for the whole family: it offers easy-to-follow recipes from all over the world that parents and children can make together, and includes some fun extras like cooking tools, activity sheets, and a culinary passport to keep track of the different cuisines you’ve explored.

Kidstir

A cooking kit box that gets all the praise from parents of picky eaters! Kidstir recipes are easy to follow, and each kit comes with stickers and other fun activities, a shopping list with digital links for dietary substitutions, and more: membership also includes access to video tutorials, games, and STEM lessons to take your cooking to the next level.


Toys

Little Passports: Food Around the World Kit

Sushi, crêpes, pho and more… This international food kit comes with felt ingredients from all over the world, 3 plates, a menu/food assembly guide and more. Such a great way for our budding sous-chefs to learn about foods from new places.

Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set

A great play set for toddlers to learn their colors AND become familiar with fruits and vegetables.

Cooking Utensils Set

We featured this set in The Upkeep series, and for good reason. It’s got everything your little ones will need to help chop, cook, bake and more. We love that it’s “real” (aka for actual use in the kitchen) and toddler-safe; and toddlers love that they have their own special things.

What media or toy have you used to encourage your kiddos be more adventurous at the dinner table?

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