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Sunday breakfast is a special time in the Johnson household. Pancakes, sausage, eggs, the works! This Sunday, Joy, the littlest of the Johnsons, decided eggs would not make the cut. The family attempted to coerce Joy to have one bite. ”If you don’t take a bite, you won’t be able to come to the movies with us.” It didn’t work. Before long, the scrambled dish ended up on the wall!
It is incredibly common to run across difficulties while feeding kids, and we want to help you get through the battles that arise. Reversing picky eating can be a long journey and we are here to help! Here’s our guide to teach you how to get kids to eat eggs. You’ll learn:
- How to serve eggs to picky eaters
- The benefits of eggs for kids
- How to talk about eggs to help your child try them
- How to help your child understand what eggs do in their body
- A food activity that will help your picky eater learn to be more comfortable with eggs
How to Serve Eggs to Picky Eaters
When you’re serving any food to a child, we recommend not pressuring the child to eat it. Think back to Joy’s situation. Her family attempted to force her to eat eggs, but applying pressure only pushed Joy to refuse more–and eventually throw the food at the wall.
There are many ways to a parent may unintentionally pressure a child to eat. Here are a few examples:
“Just one more bite, and you can have dessert.”
“Great job with that bite, now just one more!”
“You must eat it, or you won’t have playtime after dinner.”
Creating a pressure-free eating environment can be a great first step toward helping your child learn to like a new food at their own pace.
The Benefits of Eggs for Kids
Are eggs good for kids and toddlers? They are an amazing source of protein, which can benefit growing bodies. Eggs are also a “complete protein” (the body’s building blocks). This means that it contains all nine amino acids that our bodies do not produce. When eaten, complete protein helps the body support and sustain itself.
Eggs also happen to be one of the few food sources to naturally contain vitamin D, a vitamin that helps with the formation of strong bones.
With eggs offering so many nutrients and benefits for children, it’s no wonder the Johnson family wanted Joy to eat them.
How to Talk About Eggs to Help Your Child Try Them
Picky kids commonly use negative language towards new food. “This is so yucky!” “I’m not going to eat that!” “I hate eggs!” This negativity reinforces their pickiness. It makes it harder for them to learn to try a new food.
The good news is that you can teach them to speak differently about food. You can model using a wide variety of neutral words. They are neither positive nor negative.
In many cases, if you use positive words to describe a food, a picky eater may think you are trying to trick them into eating it. If you use negative words, your picky eater definitely won’t want to eat it. Neutral words help your child understand that they may learn to like a food in the future.
Using neutral language is not an instant picky eating solution. But, it is an important part of our strategy to get your child to eat eggs in the future.
The texture of eggs can vary greatly depending on how they are cooked, but here are some words you can use to describe eggs to your selective eater:
- Big smell
How to Help Your Child Understand What Eggs Do in Their Body:
The way we talk about food with kids can determine how easy it will be for them to try a new food. For example, if you say, “This food is a healthy food,” your child may decide they don’t want to eat it before they even try it. They may associate the word “healthy” with unpleasant taste.
Trying to force a picky eater like Joy to eat eggs is probably not going to give you the results you want. Instead, you can try talking to your child about what foods do in their body when the conversation naturally comes up.
When doing this, we want to share information with our kids that they can understand. We also want to help them make the connection that the food they eat does something in their body.
Is this going to magically make them try something new? Probably not. This is another step in the right direction of getting your kid to eat eggs.
Here are some messages you can share about eggs to kids. You can come up with your own as well!
Age 0-3: The outside of the egg is called its shell. It is hard and strong. Eating eggs can help make you strong too!
Age 3-5: Eggs can help give your body energy and build strong bones.
Age 6-11: Eggs have protein. Protein helps to form stronger bones and muscles.
Age 12-18: Eggs are a complete protein. Complete proteins contain the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to build strong bones and muscles.
There are many ways parents may pressure a child to eat without even knowing it. To avoid inflicting pressure at the next meal, Joy’s parents can try saying, “Eggs have strong shells. Just like their shells, eggs can help you build strong bones!”
Eggs Food Play Activity
Food activities help kids learn to try new foods. When kids interact with a new food, they may learn to like it.
Food activities also desensitize the body’s sensory system. This means that your child’s body gets more used to the food. Then, when your child is served the food, the texture, smell or taste may not bother them as much. When your child’s body is more used to the food, they can learn to taste it. They may learn to love it as well.
Food play can be as simple as having your child help prepare food with you. It can also be more fun and exciting if you want to put more time into them.
These activities aren’t going to make your child learn to like eggs overnight, because this process may take a great deal of time. Your child may need to go through many stages of being with eggs, including looking at them, smelling them and touching them, before they are ready to taste them.
If you need more food play ideas broken down by age of child (0 to 10-years-old) and stage of learning, you may enjoy our food activities guide: Food Play Every Day.
Here is an egg activity that Joy’s parents could try to help her learn to like eggs.
- 2 eggs
- 2 small bowls
- Crayons/coloring pencils
- Cooking pan
- Desired seasonings
- Toppings (sprinkles, ketchup, grapes… get creative!)
1. Tell your child to draw a face. Letting them decorate with supplied coloring utensils
2. Separate egg yolk and egg white into separate bowls. Scramble each separately.
4. When done, place scrambled eggs in separate bowls and use the fluffy eggs as the hair of the face.
5. Get creative with toppings and decorations. Take many pictures and enjoy!
Thanks for Being Part of Our Community That’s Teaching Kids to Eat More Foods!
About Kids Eat in Color
Kids Eat in Color gives parents the tools they need to teach their kids to eat veggies and try foods without a battle! From introducing new foods to a picky eater, to reducing meal-time stress, to taking off some of the burdens of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, we are here for parents.
Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN
Alli Delozier, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Laura Petix, M.S., OTR/L
Erinn Jacobi, M.S., OTR/L
Stefanie Kain, B.S., M.Ed
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