Have A Kid, They Said (It'll Be Fun, They Said): 20 Things Parents Are Never Prepared For When It Comes To Kids And Food

They say nothing can truly prepare you for parenthood. For many, changing diapers, putting babies to bed, and learning to understand a child’s private language all become mastered on the fly as opposed to being learned by reading books. No one is 100% ready to parent when he or she has his or her first child.

When kids arrive, many regular activities begin to revolve around their routines, such as eating food. Before kids came along, eating used to be a practice parents found enjoyment in, either alone or with each other. It was a relaxing time where they satisfied their appetite with delicious food. They could take their time eating a sandwich or a piece of pizza without any disturbances. That all goes away when a kid enters the picture.

Kids have a particular set of guidelines they want their parents to follow during meals. They don’t sit down with their parents one day and present these guidelines in a courteous and succinct bullet list. Instead, they reveal these preferences through fragmentary episodes that can result in spilled spaghetti or a steadfast resistance to taking a bite. As parents know all too well, their kids’ eating habits can vary from day to day. In many ways, kids are harsh food critics with strict standards when it comes to their meals.

Parents may not have many options when it comes to preparing themselves mentally and emotionally for their kids' strict food expectations. The following, however, will give them a general sense of what they can look forward to when it comes time to eat with their kids.

20 Kids Will Eat Healthy… As Long as It’s Covered In Sugar, Cheese, Or Butter

via She Knows

When kids start forming particular tastes in food, it forces parents to get creative. They have to find ways to get their children the nutrition they require to grow into healthy individuals. The problem is that kids aren’t keen on those types of foods. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers may need something extra to make them more appetizing. The New York Times recommends dressing up healthy snacks with things like ranch, cheese, or butter. The key is to not go hog wild and only use them sparingly. Parents usually find this out the hard way, though, after their kid has thrown carrots back in their faces.

19 Raising Food Critics

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Kids have a tendency to give their opinions openly and often. If they don’t like broccoli, they’ll not only say it but also show you with a disgusted look. Many parents fear ever giving their kids broccoli again after witnessing such a reaction. Actions certainly speak louder than words. They’re going to be critics of the food they’re served, whether the parents made it or picked it up from a restaurant. This is a way for kids to communicate to parents how they feel about the food they’re given and whether or not they’re fans of it. Not every parent is ready to have his or her food judged.

18 Making Messes Out Of Meals

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Parents, get ready to have your cleaning supplies on hand. Kids aren’t always cognizant of the work that goes into maintaining a clean home. What often concerns them in the kitchen is what cool or fun way they’re going to feed themselves. That often leads to messes, which translate into more work for parents. It’s important for parents to realize that it’s normal at a young age to make a mess when eating. The site Raising Children notes that toddlers from 1-4 even learn about their coordination and how their bodies work when they eat, which can often lead to spilled cups and plates.

17 They Don’t Like The Kitchen

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Getting kids to the kitchen table can be harder than it seems. It leads many parents to wish for one of those large bells on an old farm they could ring and then yell, “Time to eat!” Children know that the kitchen is where the food is at, but they’re not always keen on eating there. They might be more familiar with grabbing a snack and leaving the room to resume playing. Many parents find themselves nagging their kids to eat in the kitchen. For some kids, it’s hard to sit still and eat at the table, especially if it’s food they’re not keen on.

16 Fighting Tooth And Nail Over Fruit And Kale

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Kids tend to like junk food more than they do fruit and vegetables. They’d much rather grab salty chips or a chocolate bar than those cooked carrots sitting on their plate. When parents ask their kids to eat their vegetables, a kid may meet that request with resistance. To avoid these confrontations from happening more often, the site Your Kids Table suggests buying less junk food. If less junk food is around, kids will eat less of it, at least while they’re at home. Less junk food may end up becoming avenues that allow them to eat more healthy and balanced meals.

15 Picky And Tricky

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Kids—like adults—have foods they like and don’t like. Even though a plate is full of diverse foods, such as scrambled eggs, apple slices, and bacon, they may only eat one thing. Parents attempt to coax their kids into eating at least a little bit of everything, but they don’t budge. Kids rush off and leave the table with a plate full of untouched eggs and apple. According to NBC News, it’s normal for kids to be a little picky about their food and can even be about more than what they're eating as it relates to their personality or how they're parented.

14 Born With A Sweet Tooth

via Dietitians Life

It’s a cliché, but the saying “everything in moderation” rings true when it comes to eating. That applies to everyone, whether a developing kid or a full-fledged adult. As the New York Times points out, babies arrive with an affinity for sweeter foods and shy away from things that taste bitter. As they get older, their taste buds mature, opening up their palate to a greater diversity of foods. Early on, though, parents will have to deal with their kid’s interest in some foods and disgust of others. Parents are often caught off guard about how much they have to keep sweet foods in check.

13 They Will Find Treats No Matter Where Parents Hide Them

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In their early years, kids are still learning how to have self-control. When it comes to treats and junk food, it’s hard to stop. Even adults struggle with these temptations, so imagine how hard it is for a youngster. Parents go to extra lengths to keep these foods out of their kids' hands. What they don’t realize, though, is that kids notice where parents hide their snacks. Kids can have the propensity to be like Sherlock Holmes and will use their deductive reasoning to track down their favorite goodies. Parents don’t expect their kids to be so sneaky, especially right under their noses.

12 Eating At Restaurants Is A Sprint To The Finish

via North Virginia Magazine

Restaurants can be an enjoyable experience, especially for busy parents. Eating out is a process with many stages, from waiting to sit down to ordering food to eating the food to settling the bill. Kids aren’t always wired to sit patiently during these many stages, though. Even more, as the site Parents.com points out, not all restaurants cater to a kid-friendly environment. Something as simple as going out to eat can become laborious for new parents who aren’t expecting the experience to be so tough. Parents learn to choose certain restaurants over others and that it’s better to eat and get out as fast as possible.

11 They Are What They Eat

via The Takeout

The familiar saying “You are what you eat” applies to children, too. What they put in themselves often determines what kind of moods they’ll have throughout the day. The Child Development Institute gives a breakdown of foods and their impact on a child’s behavior. Sugar, as many can attest from first-hand experiences, leads to hyperactivity. Others, such as dairy, can make kids feel bad-tempered. Of course, there’s the alternative to consider as well, where a child can manifest all sorts of behaviors if they don’t get enough food and proper nutrition every day. Having kids forces parents to think about food more than they ever have before!

10 Food Needs To Look The Part

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When parents prepare their kid’s meal, they’re often juggling several things at once. More than likely, the last thing they’re thinking about is the way it looks. How food looks on a plate can affect what a child is open to eating, though. According to Feed Them Wisely, our eyes play an important role in how appetizing food looks to us. It’s why parents will sometimes make a smiley face out of a child’s breakfast plate with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Parents don’t expect food presentation to even be a factor in their kid's eating habits. Once they have kids, they realize how important it is.

9 Eating Off Other Plates

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Kids at a young age are still learning and haven’t quite accepted yet that not everything belongs to them. Before they reach that point, however, they might feel free to help themselves to whatever is on mommy or daddy's dinner plate. Parents who aren’t keen on sharing their meals will be in for a rude awakening when they find their little ones chowing down on that pasta they ordered. It can also potentially interrupt that parent from having a conversation with others. When a kid eats, anything that’s placed on the dinner table is a potential snack as long as it’s within reach.

8 Playing With Food Instead Of Eating It

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Children see things differently in life apart from adults. For example, that piece of steak isn’t dinner but more like a frisbee. There are some studies that show it’s a good thing when kids play with their food. According to Today's Parent, the studies from the University of Eastern Finland showed that kids become more open to trying new foods when they're given the freedom to play. Whether one believes in the study or not, what parents won’t argue is that many of their kids play with their food. It’s something parents don’t expect until they’re actually faced with it.

7 A Surplus Of Leftovers

via The Pragmatic Parent

As touched upon earlier, kids can be particular about what foods they eat. That results in plates that are still full of food even after dinner is over. Parents differ about where they stand on this subject, with some teaching their kids to leave an empty plate. For those that don’t subscribe to this practice, it’s going to create a lot more leftovers. As the site Boston Moms Blog reports, this leads to many parents either eating the food themselves or throwing it out. Either way, parents don’t often expect so much extra food to pile up after their kids leave the table.

6 Constantly Changing Tastes

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Remember those granola bars your kids ate last week? They don’t like them anymore. Oh yeah, and those blueberries taste “gross” now, even though they were “good” yesterday. A child’s tastes in certain foods might be stable one day and manic the next. Many parents don’t expect their children’s tastes to change, thinking that if they’ve found something they love, they'll keep loving it. As their tastes change, though, parents find it difficult to adapt to their preferences while still giving them the nutrition they need. It’s a tough balancing act parents face on top of all the other challenges of putting food on the table.

5 A Balanced Diet Is An Uphill Battle

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On paper, a parent may look at all the nutrition a child requires to grow up healthy and strong and think it looks easy. According to the site Mayo Clinic, they need nutrients like vitamins, protein, and fat. When it comes to protein, they recommend a wide range of foods such as eggs, beans, and unsalted nuts. Fruit, vegetables and whole wheat bread are also good to have. When parents do have kids, though, they soon realize that getting them to eat all of these foods is a lot harder than it seems at first. This forces parents to find crafty and creative ways of incorporating these foods into a children's diet.

4 Getting Them To Take A Bite Is Like Pulling Teeth

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Children may be smaller than adults, but they have a willpower that’s larger than life. They’re not afraid to act according to what they feel is in their best interests either. That’s a challenge many parents don’t see coming. A child may not even want to take a bite of food, and it takes work on the parent’s end to make it happen. There are a number of various reasons why children won’t take a single bite of their food. According to the site Sarah Remmer, if a child is watching an iPad or occupied with something else, there are distractions preventing them from eating.

3 Kids Negotiate Meals

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Don’t underestimate the negotiating skills of children. Just because they’re small and still learning doesn’t mean they lack the skills to be master negotiators. New parents may not expect their kids to bargain over food, but it’s a challenge that faces many. Parents can use these moments as an opportunity, though. According to the site Scary Mommy, a child may demand only ice cream for dinner. The parent can use this as an opportunity to encourage their child to have some vegetables for dinner. The parent tells them if they eat all their vegetables, they can have ice cream afterward.

2 Some Foods Bore Them

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It’s not enough that parents hang out with kids, make sure they’re well fed, and get to bed on time. Parents also have to entertain them. If a kid eats a particular food on a regular basis over time, they’re going to get bored of it. Granted, as Science Nordic reports, kids tend to gravitate towards more familiar foods instead of trying something new. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll always settle for mac and cheese every night. At some point, they’re going to turn food down simply because it doesn’t interest them, and that’s enough to surprise first-time parents.

1 Say Goodbye To Eating Schedules

via Parents Magazine

Kids don’t eat as adults do. They tend to eat more often throughout the day. According to Kids Health, they can eat as much as six times a day, which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with several snacks in between. Making matters even more complicated, as noted elsewhere on this list, kids don’t always eat when they're supposed to. Parents who follow their own strict eating schedule may not understand their child’s. A child’s eating patterns can seem more demanding or inflexible depending on his or her habits from day to day. The only thing a parent can count on is that there won’t be a solid schedule to count on.

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