The other day Dave and I were wrangling Lucy at the drug store.
“Daddy, look at THIS! I want it!”
“Mommy, it’s pink! It’s CINDERELLA SHAMPOO! Can I drink it?”
“I NEED THIS TOW MATER BALL! NO I DON’T WANT TOW MATER I WANT LIGHTENING McQUEEN!”
Dave looks at me. “Why is marketing so damn effective for kids? They are the biggest suckers for advertising EVER.”
It’s true. If you want to see a toddler meltdown, tell them they can’t have that Thomas the Train frisbee. As parents, it’s incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I feel like the companies responsible are suckering me out of my money because they know a pink princess potty will work for toilet training. They know a Dora water bottle will get Little Miss Picky to drink more liquids. They know a Hello Kitty Band Aid will calm the crying after a scraped knee. And even if your kid has never watched television, they somehow know who all these cartoon characters are. Gah!
But what I’ve come to realize is that gimmicks work because kids just don’t want things to be boring. They want something they can identify with, something that’s fun. So as parents, we can totally use this to our advantage.
Take snacking, for example. I have a heck of a time getting Lucy to snack healthy. I’ve tried every trick in the book and she still whines for granola bars and goldfish. But if I make snacks fun—give her an activity within the snack—it works like a charm.
I give you the Peanut Butter Fishin’ Hole. Stick pretzels in a lake of peanut butter (hippie peanut butter—natural with no added sugar), surrounded by dried blueberries.
The sticky peanut butter allows your little one to “fish” for blueberries. I guarantee you’ll hear “Mom! I got one!” over and over. Lucy even asks for this one for breakfast.
Her other favorite? The Hummus Hut. Get architectural with some thick hummus, a few baby carrots and some snap peas.
If your kid’s imagination is anything like Lucy’s, they’ll be making up stories about who lives in the house (for her, it’s a monkey and a sock), how they water the garden, where they park the car, what they eat for dinner…and then their humble abode will be munched to pieces. Poor little hut dwellers.
It’s also fun to make hummus cars using olives or grape tomatoes as wheels. Zoom, zoom.
And the last member of my creative snack arsenal is Nutella Builders. Cut up fruit into different shapes and sizes, add a dollop of Nutella and break apart a few graham crackers.
Give your tiny snacker a child-safe knife for spreading the Nutella (or let them use their fingers if you like) and then watch them get creative with the fruit. Clearly I’m not as inspired as my toddler because I made a happy face. Lucy has been known to create puppies, hospitals and motorcycles. If you don’t have Nutella it’s easy to substitute cream cheese, peanut butter, or even hummus with crackers and chopped veggies.
Your little one doesn’t want anything to be dull, so let them use a little creative energy during snack time. You might even be able to steer them toward healthier, whole foods. Steering them away from that Disney Princess Halloween costume, however? Sorry. Can’t help you there.
What are your tricks to get kids to snack healthy?