Before your little one heads to the table, it’s important to plan ahead. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to plan your meals weeks or months in advance (although that’s awesome if you can do that). It just means that you need to have a good game plan going in. And guess what? This game plan will make your life a million times easier and will set your child up for success at mealtime.

It’s as simple as this:

On your child’s plate, be sure to combine preferred, favorite foods with new or less-preferred foods.

My friend Ashely Smith MPH RD LD from @vegetablesandvirtue came up with an awesome way to remember this: #loveitlikeitlearningit.

This means, as you prepare your child’s meal, include 1-2 foods your child LOVES, 1-2 foods your child LIKES, and 1-2 foods your child is LEARNING to eat.

Check out three meals at our house using this practice:

Breakfast #loveitlikeitlearningit Keegan loves pancakes, likes eggs, and is learning to eat fresh berries. By the end of this meal, he had eaten all the pancakes, most of the eggs, and a few bites of fruit.


Lunch #loveitlikeitlearningit Liam loves blackberries, likes corn chips, and is learning to eat chili and peas. He also loves to dip, so I offered chili as a dip for his chips. Initially he turned away with a facial grimace, but by the end of the meal was dipping away.


Dinner #loveitlikeitlearningit Keegan loves french fries, likes fish sticks, and is learning to eat peas and fresh raspberries. At this meal, he ate the fries and fish sticks, but did touch the raspberries with his hands and fed the peas to Milton using his fork. Even though he didn’t eat the peas or raspberries, I’m happy that he interacted with each food without a fight.


Give it a try at home! I’d love to hear what foods your child is liking, loving, and learning to eat!


-Catherine Callahan, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC