8 Expert Tips in Handling Picky Eaters


Young girl in kitchen eating chicken and vegetables smiling

Making kids eat healthy foods is a to priority for all parents. However, as children are naturally picky eaters, feeding them with healthy foods prove to be a challenge. It can put your patience and understanding to the test.

If you are currently struggling with these issues, here are 8 tips you can use.

1. Make your kid’s favorite meals a lot healthier

If your kid is already passionate about pancakes and cereals, try to create a healthier version of them. Pancakes, for example, can be made with banana so you don’t have to pack in a lot of sugar into the mix. You can also shred bits of vegetables in the batter. The key thing is presentation. You need to be creative in how you’re going to present healthier treats.

2. Avoid keeping unhealthy snacks in your pantry

When kids can’t see bags of chips and candies, they aren’t likely to eat them. By keeping out the bad stuff in your kitchen, you’ll leave them with no other option but to snack on healthy stuff.

You have to remember, however, that limiting treats completely isn’t good, too. When you deprive your kids of their treats, they are prone to overindulging once they get their hands on them. You need to teach them about moderation and one way to do that is to offer treats occasionally.

3. Encourage your kids to join meal preparations

Encouraging your kids to participate in meal preparation gives them more opportunity to decide on the food they’ll eat. You can ask for their help in deciding the meals for the week and take them with you when you go to the grocery.

When kids feel more in control, you’ll feel less stressed out in convincing them to eat the food they prepared. It can make meal time enjoyable not only for them but for the whole family, too.


4. Create a schedule for their snacks

Creating and sticking to a schedule works well for kids. If they are conditioned to get treats at a certain time, they’ll bug you less about them before meal time. Bear in mind that it may take a while before they get used to it so be patient with your kids.

When they complain about feeling hungry, do not give in to the temptation of offering them snacks. Slight hunger is alright. It’s even helpful, actually, in motivating your picky eaters to eat whatever is there at your dining table. This, however, is different from letting your children go extremely hungry just to force them to eat.

In preparing their snacks, it’s a good idea to incorporate two food groups. This way, your kids will be able to have more nutrients in a single serving. For example, if you’ll be offering whole wheat bread, make sure that you also add cheese.

5. Be a good example

Children look up to adults. They tend to imitate what they see adults do. If they often catch you munching on chips and drinking sodas, they are likely to do the same thing. Set up a good example and try to eat healthy foods, especially when they’re around. It’s also a good idea to share your food with them to make them feel more comfortable about eating healthy. You can encourage them to take a piece of your carrot sticks or to taste your morning smoothie.

6. Reward good behavior

If your picky eater finishes a plate of healthy food or his serving of vegetable, reward him with a healthy treat after his meal. Rewards motivate children to keep doing the same behavior and the more they do it, the more it becomes a habit.

7. Never punish your kid

Picky eaters can make you feel irritated, frustrated and stressed out. No matter how difficult it is to feed your kids, never use punishment as a response. Threatening your kids won’t only make it even harder for you to feed them but it can also make them lose their confidence in you. They can avoid or even hate you.

Punishment isn’t limited to physical abuse. Threatening your children about letting them starve is a form of punishment, too. Cursing or showing aggressive behavior at the dining table isn’t acceptable as well. These actions can make your kids associate food with negative emotions and thoughts.

8. Give more opportunities

If your kid denies a food you prepare for the first time, don’t take it out of the equation completely. You can reintroduce it again after a couple of weeks.

When handling picky eaters, it’s important that you give them more healthy options to choose from. You can mix and match the food items or serve them in a different way. Take, for example, potatoes. You can bake, puree or mash them depending on your dish. You can also substitute food items, like using pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Little baby girl eating breakfast. Beautiful natural light

Author’s Bio:

Samantha is a full-time writer and mother to three kids. She has covered a wide range of subjects throughout her career- from parenting hacks to writing the best soup maker reviews.

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National Geographic Kids Holiday Giveaway (ends 12/3/16)


Christmas Gifts

Now that the holidays are here, people are scrambling to find the perfect gifts for those on their holiday shopping list.

Something that people might now always consider as a holiday gift are books. Personally, I LOVE books. If someone gifted me a gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble I’d be happy. There are plenty of books that I would love to read.

I think that books make great gifts for children too. Even “reluctant readers” can enjoy a good book that doesn’t necessarily have to be a reading book. There are plenty of books out there that are educational as well as comics and graphic novels.


Are you familiar with books from National Geographic Kid? We own many of their books and I have donated many of them to the classrooms where I’ve worked.

National Geographic Kids teaches kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and make it a better place. It is the only kids brand with a scientific, education, and conservation organization at its core.

National  Geographic Kids is the #1 publisher of nonfiction books for kids, producing more than 100 titles per year. From board books to leveled readers to almanacs to our wildly popular Weird but True series, we’ve got books for every young reader on your list.

National Geographic Kids sent me a few of their new books to check out for myself. They might be geared towards children, but as an adult I find them very enjoyable. Even I learn A LOT from reading them.

Here are the books that I was sent to review.


5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3

Find fascinating knowledge nuggets on all kinds of cool topics, from bubble gum and ice cream to the outer space and the North Pole! This book offers hours of unplugged fun for curious kids who love to be the trivia expert in the family. (Ages 8-12)


National Geographic Kids Almanac 2017

Get inspired for the year ahead with the most popular kids’ almanac on the planet! It features 350+ pages of incredible photos, fun facts, news, activities, and features about animals, science, exploration, technology, culture, and more. (Ages 8-12)

The second annual Almanac Newsmaker Challenge invites kids create a time capsule for kids in 2050 that shows what life is like today. Just gather up to 10 “artifacts,” photograph it, and share it on My Shot, the Nat Geo Kids online photo community. Get the details at: natgeokids.com/almanac.


Weird but True 8

Kids love Weird But True! The latest, greatest in this endlessly fascinating series – now with more than 20 titles – is full of 300 all-new wild and wacky facts and pictures. (Ages 8-12)

I’m not exaggerating when I say as an adult, I find these books fascinating. I’ve learned A LOT from these books.

What I love about these books that they are very engaging. They have colorful photos to go along with all the amazing facts. Even if your child is still in the early stages of reading they can still enjoy the great photos found in each of the books.

These are fun books… but at the same time they are educational.

These would make great holiday gifts. As a mom I would certainly gift my children these books.

If you would like to learn more about these and other National Geographic Kids books, visit ShopNG.com/kidsbooks. You can also follow @NGKids and @NatGeoBooks on Twitter and “like” National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Books on Facebook. You can also check out the hashtag #NatGeoKidsBooks on social media.


National Geographic Kids has generously offered to give a lucky reader a copy of each of these books!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on December 3, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me which of these three books you think would be most interesting and/or who you’ll gift these books to if you are the winner?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received the same prize package in exchange for my participation. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. National Geographic Kids provided the prize and samples. 

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Enjoying the Holidays: 9 tips for Families of Children with Special Needs


Christmas Gifts

The holidays can be fun, but they can add stress to the lives of children with special needs. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers the following tips to help.

“Children with special needs enjoy the holidays but they are especially sensitive to the changes in routines that the holidays bring,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “Making a plan and adjusting your expectations can go a long way to creating a positive holiday experience for the entire family.”

Tip #1

Make a plan for the holidays and share it with your family. Create a schedule for your family’s holiday activities and post it for your child to see. You may need to use pictures to help a young child. Talk about the schedule with your child, so he or she can anticipate what will happen. Review the schedule weekly. Also discuss the schedule with others in your home, so they understand what is going on and how they can best support your child with special needs, so everyone can have a fun holiday.

Tip #2

For holiday gatherings, give your child a job and a schedule. Ask your child to help collect coats, give out treats, or greet arrivals. Rehearse the plan. Give your child a schedule for a festive occasion so he or she knows what to anticipate.

Tip #3

Maintain routines as much as possible. There may be special activities for the holidays, but try to keep your child’s schedule as close to “normal” as possible.

Tip #4

Eat healthy foods and know how new or special foods impact your child. During the holidays there are all sorts of fun foods and treats to enjoy. Some children are more affected than others by dietary changes. Pay attention to your child’s moods and how diet and situational changes may be impacting him or her. Bring along with you food that is familiar to your child if you think it may be needed.


Tip #5

If your child is sensitive to unfamiliar smells, help manage them. You can add a little cinnamon to play compound to help a child experience this smell minimally. Ask guests visiting your home to not wear heavy perfumes if your child is sensitive to them.

Tip #6

Get your child into the spirit of the season through gift giving. Gift giving provides an opportunity to practice social skills. Help your child make a gift for someone else, and practice how to give the gift to that person.

Tip #7

Take breaks when needed. Sometimes children need a break from the hubbub of holiday activities and busyness. Fill a bag or backpack with a few favorite toys, games or activities. If you see your child is getting stressed, get out the bag and find a quiet spot to get them out.

Tip #8

Do not allow presents to be a hindrance to enjoyment. Some children with special needs find it disorienting to unwrap things that are new and unfamiliar to them. If that is the case for your child, wrap a few favorite toys for your child to unwrap. Children who have trouble with fine motor skills may find unwrapping some gifts frustrating. You can adjust packages to their comfort level by loosening ribbons and paper. And ask others who give your child gifts to be aware of his or her needs.

Tip #9

Give your child the gift of your attention. Holidays can be busy for grown-ups and children. Make sure you spend a few minutes of quality time with your child. Give him or her your full attention. Practice active listening, where you listen to what your child is saying and then repeat it back to them to demonstrate that you were listening.


About the author:

The Episcopal Center for Children (Center) is a nonprofit, nondenominational school and treatment program for children contending with emotional challenges from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center serves children who are 5-14 years old in grades K-8. The goal of the Center’s treatment, therapeutic milieu, and individualized special education program is to empower each child to function productively within his or her family and community. Building on strengths within children, the Center partners with families in treatment and focuses on enabling its students to access and become their best possible selves. More information is available at eccofdc.org and on Twitter @ECCofDC.

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Kid’s Books Explain When Fido Gets Adopted, Sick or Dies



I am a big time animal lover. Our five cats, dog and Goldfish are proof of that. If I could live on a farm or run my own animal sanctuary I would.

I have always had animals in my life. Growing up we had dogs, cats, fish, birds, hamsters and even a horse. We spoiled them like crazy and were devastated and heartbroken when they passed away.

Even today as an “adult” I cried when our Goldfish “Wishie” died last year. That’s right – an adult CRIED over the death of a Goldfish. That’s how I am. I love our pets very much – big or small.

Two of our cats have health issues. Bella has severe asthma and three leaky valves in he heart. Her thyroid is also wonky too. Our other cat, Velcro, is diabetic and requires insulin shots twice a day. The diabetes and his age have caused him to lose his teeth.

Our dog Espn (pronounced Es-pin) is very sick. He is terminally ill with a liver disease called Hepatocutaneous Syndrome. There is no cure for it. He’s slowly dying. We are doing our best to make his last days with us good days. We know that eventually we have to put him to sleep. I am not ready to say “good bye,” but I know that day is fast approaching. He hurts walking up and down stairs and all he does is sleep. He also licks at his skin, causing wounds that get infected, so he has to live with a cone around his neck 24/7.


I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I write about him.

Thankfully my kids are teenagers and can understand things a lot easier. Sometimes it’s difficult for young children to understand things like why animals get sick, need surgery and eventually die.

There is a new line of book that attempt to explain these things in a gentle way to help children understand these situations a bit better. They are part of the Dog Tales Collection. Here is some additional information.

The Dog Tales Collection, written by Patricia Brill, Phd, are an award-winning collection of illustrated books that help open a dialogue between parents and children concerning issues they may have with their pets.  These books help children better understand what happens when their pet or loved one has cancer, under goes surgery, has to stay overnight at the hospital or even dies.

These sensitive and emotionally stirring children’s books are written in such a way to simply but gently discuss the obvious. Patricia Brill is brilliant as is her award-winning children’s book illustrator Curt Walstead, who has also worked on many of today’s popular children’s shows such as Dora the ExplorerDragon Tales,Clifford’s Puppy Days and Baby Looney Tunes.

I was sent a few of the books to review.


Do Bad Dogs Get Cancer?

Turbo the dog is not feeling well. His owner takes him to see the vet. The vet finds that Turbo has cancerous tumors. Turbo is scared and thinks he has cancer because he was a bad dog. He soon learns that cancer can strike any dog and it has nothing to do with being bad.

This book explains in a gentle way what cancer is, what remission is and what the vet had to do to treat Turbo’s cancer.


The Road to Recovery is Paved with Dog Treats

This book follows Turbo leading up to his surgery. He is scared and doesn’t know what is going to happen. Thankfully the other animals at the vet hospital are there to explain everything in detail to Turbo so that he is no longer afraid.

I like how the entire procedure as to what is involved with a pet having surgery is explain in simple, easy to understand detail. This is great for a child who is fearful that something bad will happen to their pet if it requires surgery.


Don’t Say Good Bye, Just say See You

This book was hard to read because our dog is dying. It’s the story of Turbo and his best friend Boxter who has caner that cannot be operated on. Turbo is sad and angry that his friend is going to leave him and go to heaven.

The book is well written, and talk about how the dog will no longer be in pain and can frolic and enjoy being a dog again in heaven. That is what children need to hear and understand, but as an adult who is going through a similar situation right now with her own dog, I had a hard time reading this.


Porsche Bella’s Forever Home

This book doesn’t deal with death or health issues (thankfully). It’s the story of an abandoned puppy and her siblings. They are found by a young boy and adopted out.

The puppy feels scared, alone and confused. Her new siblings share their stories about how they came to live in their “forever home.” The story also goes on to explain that sometimes siblings cannot be together because they get adopted to different homes, but that doesn’t mean that the love is still not there.

This is a great book to share with children when your family adopts a pet, or if you have a situation where you have a pet that has babies and they all have to go to different homes.

The books do a good job at explaining these difficult situations so that children can understand them better and not be afraid. Even as an adult I enjoyed the books.

The illustrations go perfectly with the stories too.

Look for these books where ever books are sold. I have seen them online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Are you dealing with a similar situation right now with your pet? What do you think about these books?



*I received free copies to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 


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5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy For the School Year


Back to School

The kids are back to school, and while parents are adjusting to new schedules, homework demands, and more, they also need to ensure their children stay as healthy as possible, despite being exposed to classmates’ sniffling, sneezing, and germ-sharing habits.

Here are 5 tips to keep kids healthy and happy as the school year begins:

  • Bank those sleep hours –Late night TV watching, video gaming and texting disrupt sleep patterns, so set limits on computer and smartphone use, and reinforce reasonable bedtimes in the first weeks of school. Not only are good sleep habits part of a healthy lifestyle, some studies show that even one less hour of sleep a night can hurt a child’s ability to learn. Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., Chief Director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas notes that our brain needs approximately 8 hours to rest and consolidate learning of new information.
  • Quickly treat aches and pains – Children, like adults, can overdo it: not getting enough rest or eating a healthy diet, especially during the first hectic weeks of school. That leaves them more susceptible to a range of ailments, including scratchy throats. Keep an eye on signs of a cold and act quickly before they progress. For a sore, scratchy throat, parents should choose over-the-counter medicines made for children, not adults, like all-natural Nature’s Jeannie™ Throat Care Spray for Kids, that not only soothes and coats irritated throats, but reduces bacteria significantly, loosens mucus, decreases inflammation and helps restore the throat’s natural pH balance. The spray also minimizes the risk of overmedicating: a new study found that 1 in 5 parents give their child overdoses of common medicines, due to confusing instructions and dosage information.
  • Reinforce healthy eating habits – It’s hard to get kids to eat healthy when fries, pizza and other fast food are on the school menu. Parents might consider making sure that at least a healthy breakfast starts the day, and here is good reason why. Scientists from the University of Alberta-Canada, in a study of more than 4,500 fifth-graders, found that children who ate more whole fruits and vegetables, and consumed fewer calories from fat performed better in school. “This study demonstrates the independent importance of overall diet quality to academic performance,” concluded lead author Dr. Paul J. Veugelers and colleagues.
  • Reinforce smart hygiene habits – How do kids contract germs in and out of the classroom? Not washing their hands! Kids frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make them sick. Empower your child with their own sanitizer keychain (fun, yet functional), remind them about the importance of washing their hands and explain how germs spread.
  • Encourage physical activity over digital activity – Although the school year does incorporate some play time or recess, not all schools put the same emphasis on the importance of physical activity. Especially in this highly digital age of iPads, smart phones, digital games, apps, media galore – go out of your way to carve some time for physical fitness. Consider a walk with the family after dinner, or a marathon jump rope contest. Researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise (three times a week for 50 minutes) improves memory function, so exercise is a good way to engage in quality time with your child and build their mental muscle.

Parents can start the school year off right with a child who is rested, healthy, eating well, feeling positive and focused on being healthy – it provides the best opportunity for an enjoyable school year for both you and your student!

Back to School

About the author:

Nature’s Jeannie™ was born out of frustration: plagued by painful sore throats, Juliet Boghossian concocted a throat gargle she could rely on to relieve and remedy her sore throat quickly and naturally, and eventually teamed with her husband, Michael Tatosian, to further develop the product that became Gargle Away® Advanced Throat Care. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Gargle Away’s proprietary blend of all-natural germ fighting, pain relieving and highly soothing ingredients provides the most comprehensive and effective throat care without a prescription. 

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Dr Pepper Snapple Group – with so many varieties there is something for everyone


Family grocery shopping

Brands. We’re all familiar with them. There are literally thousands in every grocery store across the country. People might be surprised to find out that some of their favorite brands are actually under the “umbrella” of a larger brand. It’s not uncommon for one brand to be the parent company of other brands.

I recently learned that the Dr Pepper Snapple Group was the parent brand of popular brands that my family enjoys on a regular basis.

The Dr Pepper Snapple Group is the parent company to the brands Mott’s, Yoo-hoo and Hawaiian Punch. They also make Snapple and Dr Pepper products too.

Visit my kitchen and you’ll almost always find Yoo-hoo and Hawaiian Punch in my fridge or pantry. It’s not so much for my kids – but my husband! I always refer to him as my third child. LOL!

My husband grew up drinking Yoo-hoo and Hawaiian Punch. He loves those brands and enjoys them as much today as he did when he was a kid. They are a staple in our home. Who knew they were made by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and were “related” to each other.


My husband buys Yoo-hoo in bulk from the warehouse club and often takes it to work with him.

My family also enjoys Hawaiian Punch. My husband prefers the classic red fruit punch. I used to pack my kids the juice pouches in with their lunch back when I made their school lunches (our daughter is in college now and our son in a senior who eats lunch when he gets home from school).

They still enjoy the pouches along with an afternoon snack.


I was surprised to learn that our family favorites are also “related” to another Dr Pepper Snapple Group product – Mott’s.

I buy Mott’s apple juice from time to time. Last year the site director I worked with served the children Mott’s apple juice with their snacks. Sometimes I would pour myself a cup. I would even pick up a contain here and there when I went shopping but it never lasted too long. My kids normally drank it before I had a chance to.

Mott’s apple juice is also a nice snack time option.

I especially like the individual bottle option. Not only are they great to toss into your child’s lunch box, but I can also take them to work with me in my lunch tote.


Now, whenever I go to the grocery store I see Dr Pepper Snapple Group products every where. I’m surprised by how many brands they represent. I had no idea they offered consumers such a great variety of products and flavors. They have something for everyone.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group is also all about fun and games. They have a health and wellness initiative called Let’s Play that encourages children (and families) to get out and play.

Playtime has changed A LOT since I was a kid. I would be outside from sun up to sundown. I grew up in a time where kids played until the street lights came on. Then we’d go home and read, color or play some more.

These days children are overwhelmed with homework and after school activities. Even parents find themselves working more hours in order to afford the cost of living. Something like playtime seems to get pushed to the side.

Sadly, a new survey from Let’s Play, found that only 33 percent of children participate in daily active play – a decrease from 41 percent in 2015. I find this statistic rather shocking. Nearly half of the children in the survey don’t have time to play.


My husband and our kids playing at the playground when they were little. My husband accidentally hit his head on the yellow bar.

I always gave my kids time to play and unwind after school. I know that doing their homework was important, but I found that playtime was equally as important. Kids need time to unwind and decompress after school. They need time to simply be a kid.

Playtime is not only a great way to de-stress after a long day but it’s a great way for kids to get much needed exercise and to develop, encourage and promote creativity and imagination.

We don’t have a yard so my kids had their outside playtime on the weekends at the local parks. At home my son would always go straight to his vehicles and building blocks/bricks. My daughter loved to color and draw. What ever a child considers fun is playtime.

I work as a teacher’s assistant in a Kindergarten classroom. The teacher makes sure that the kids get ample playtime in between learning. Every day the kids get outside to play for 15-30 minutes and inside they get 30 minutes of play before the learning begins and another 15 minute playtime later on in the day.


If you would like to learn more about the Let’s Play initiative, or to find some great playtime activities you and your family can enjoy, visit LetsPlay.com.

f you would like to learn more about Dr Pepper Snapple Group and all their brands, please visit their website at www.DrPepperSnapple.com.

In addition, you can also follow Dr Pepper Snapple Group on social media at www.Facebook.com/DrPepperSnapple or www.Twitter.com/DrPepperSnapple. They can also be found on Instagram (@DrPepperSnapple). You can also find all of the individual brands on social media too.

Are you a fan of any of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group products?

Do you make sure that your child/children have ample play time on a daily basis? What is your child’s favorite playtime activity?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.



*Compensation was provided by Dr Pepper Snapple Group via MomTrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Dr Pepper Snapple Group or Mom Trends.

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