Those first foods were so easy, weren’t they? When each of my three kids were starting solids, they pretty much slurped down anything and everything. Then came the toddler years when reality hit. My firstborn still ate whatever I dished out, but my younger two—not so much. They’re the reason I got into making food art in the first place, to make things other than “mackin cheez” and “peana budda sammich” look attractive.
When I first spotted this craze on Pinterest, I thought, cute, but who has time for this? Once I got into it, though, and kept things minimal but still fun, I was hooked. And if this is what it takes to finally get my kids to scarf down cauliflower—true story—I’ll do it as long as they’ll let me!
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started:
1. Keep food in their natural state as much as possible.
The more you present food the way it usually looks, the easier it’ll be for your tot to recognize when they have it again (this is why “broccoli trees” works so well). Cauliflower as clouds and sliced fruit as hot air balloons is effective—and easy.
2. Ditch the plate.
Since toddlers aren’t the type to stay seated, there’s no need to confine meals and snacks to a formal plate every time. Break out a cutting board and set up a scene for your little one and any playmates or siblings (or snacky parents) to graze from.
3. Make mommy and me meals.
When you and your mini-me have fun food that matches, you’re sending the message that food is relationship and connection—not just a transaction. Save time by dressing up a couple bowls of yogurt or oatmeal. The best part is that this means you get to sit down and have a decent meal, too.
Feel free to follow me on Instagram @howaboutcookie, or visit my blog at
howaboutcookie.com for more ideas!