Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters (I Used to Be One!)

I place the plate of food in front of my toddler daughter and she recoils in horror. The arms pulled back, the face twisted in disgust. It’s a look I know well. I admit that I was not a healthy or adventurous eater as a child. In fact, I was extremely picky! I dreaded eating at a friend’s house because of my food aversions. I had my picky food list in mind and hoped that the meal being served didn’t have something that I’d have to pick out, avoid or gag on! Only in my twenties did I start trying new foods. And it’s because I used to be so particular with eating that I’ve been able to come up with ideas for feeding picky eaters.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters

When my eldest son was born, I knew that I wanted him to develop good eating habits from the start. Today he’s an adventurous eater who loves to try new foods. When I married my husband, I gained a stepdaughter through marriage. She was a very particular eater who (with Autism) has some serious texture sensitivity. She now easily eats everything placed in front of her without any complaints! Keep reading for my tested tips for feeding picky eaters.

Picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater on how to encourage your kids to try new foods. With these practical tips for feeding picky eaters you can take the focus off them and encourage healthy habits.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Start Young

When your babies first start eating solids, offer a wide variety of flavors and textures. It’s tempting to want to keep with the smooth and sweet foods but it’s important that babies learn (once the doctor gives the go-ahead) about savory flavors and to get accustomed to textures. I started by adding herbs and spices to baby food puree to add a dash of flavor. I discovered that a tiny bit of cinnamon with the baby cereal, thyme in the chicken puree and curry in the butternut squash.

2. “You Don’t Have to Like it, but You Still Have to Eat it”

Enlist a family motto like this one, which knocks off the “I don’t like this” excuses. When I first married my husband, his daughter was 5 and had a very small meal repertoire. We knew that needed to change but he’d gotten accustomed to serving her the same foods. It was easier to give in than deal with a possible dinnertime meltdown. Upon giving her a plate of food and hearing, “I don’t like meatloaf”, I replied, “You don’t have to like it, but you still have to eat it”. Saying it flatly and without emotion, drama or any kind of pressure from me seemed to do the trick. She tried it and now meatloaf is one of her favorite meals!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

3. Make the Meal Less About the Eating

Growing up, I was sooo stubborn about trying new foods. And that’s because during every dinner, the spotlight was on me to verify that I was eating what was served. My parents would make a big embarrassing fuss if I tried something new. So I stopped trying new things, just to be more in control.

We decided with our kids to take the focus off the eating and make mealtimes more enjoyable. We don’t obsess over every bite that our kids take. There is no big fanfare. It’s just food and meal time is not the place to pressure your kids. Push them and they’re sure to push back!

4. Keep Offering

So, they didn’t like it the first time you served it. That’s okay, keep offering. It may take quite a few times of seeing a food on their plate before children will try it, let alone like it.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

My son requested sushi for his birthday dinner.

5. Limit Portion Sizes

How can you get picky eaters to try new foods? Don’t pile their plates! When serving a new food, all we ask is that our children try one or two bites and that’s all. Start with a very small portion on your child’s plate. When they finish it, offer seconds. There are certain foods that my daughter doesn’t enjoy, like black beans. We will literally give her three beans and ask that she finish them. Once she is done, she can request more or she can be finished, there is no pressure.

Consider a Compartment Divided Plate so that foods aren’t “touching” and portion control is easier.

6. Respect Their Lack of Appetite

How do I get my picky toddler to eat?! And why is my kid always telling me he’s not hungry? Kids truly do have small stomachs. Also their appetites peak and wane depending upon growth spurts. Repeat after yourself, “It’s just one meal”. They’ll eat when they get hungry. Kids should continue to sit at the table with you during meals. I let my kids know that THIS is meal time and that if they tell me they’re hungry in 30 minutes that what we’re eating at the moment is what they will be served!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

7. Keep An Open Mind

You’ve just prepared a new dish and you’re already thinking, “There is no way my kid is going to eat this.” Get that thought out of your head right now, because your picky eater might just surprise you. Go into each new experience with an open mind. Simply serve what you’ve made without a big production and ignore the “I don’t like this, even though I’ve never had it” commentary.

Last year I offered my kids white canellini beans. We’ve eaten a lot of beans (pinto, black, refried, kidney) over the years but I’d never served white beans. My preschooler asked me what they were and then tried one (up to that point, he wouldn’t even TRY the beans we’d offered). He shrugged after eating the white bean and said, “I guess I like beans”. And he’s eaten every bean since!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

8. Water is the Beverage Option

Though I do offer a small glass of milk with breakfast and dinner, for the rest of the day water is the only beverage option. Juice or caffeine-free soda is limited to special occasions, like at a party. I prefer that my kids get their calories from healthy, nutritious foods and not get filled up on beverages.

9.  Serve Well-Balanced Snacks

Nothing like that just-before-dinner snack to “ruin” their appetite for the main course! Limit snack time to twice a day and under 100 calories. Snacks should be well-balanced and include a little fat (like nuts), protein (like a lean piece of meat) and a carbohydrate (like a half of a piece of fruit). Make it easy for your kids by keeping fruit on the counter and prepped veggies in the fridge, where they are easy to grab on the go. We like edamame that kids can pop out of the pods (they are healthy and they take a bit of time to consume).

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

10. Keep the Choices Fresh

It’s easy to get stuck on serving the same fruits and vegetables. But it’s important to keep things fresh and continue to offer new flavors. My kids have just developed a love of yellow and green squash, which we lightly steam. It’s also essential that you keep mostly fresh foods in the kitchen and to eliminate most bagged or processed items that are heavy on sodium and saturated fat.

We recently tried Dinnerly, which gave us some new ideas for veggies and recipes.

11. Offer Sauces and Dips (or Not!)

My toddler won’t eat meat unless it’s smothered in ketchup. Totally fine by me, at least she’s eating it! What are the foods that your kids might enjoy more if they had a sauce or dip as an accompaniment? And then there are some kids, like my kindergartner who does’t like sauces at all! If it’s easy enough to leave off the sauce on a dish, try letting family members add it themselves so the picky eater can have it “plain”.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

12. Remove White Foods

White foods are often the diet staples of a picky eater! Sub in colorful and more flavorful foods and skip the bland white foods. Avoid white bread and switch to a smooth tasting wheat. Once your child’s taste buds have gotten used to that, you can move to a nutty whole grain instead. Instead of white potatoes, try steamed sweet potato chunks. Use whole wheat pasta instead of pasta made with white flour. Switch out white rice for brown rice. Don’t think that eating healthier foods is more costly – see my ideas on how to save money on groceries.

13. Be a Good Role Model

Kids will totally notice if you are serving them lima beans and you don’t have any on your plate! Make sure you practice what you preach and that they see you eating healthfully as well. Are you ready to start your own healthy eating plan? Check out my review of Personal Trainer Food.

14. Make Meals Distraction Free

While you don’t want the focus on your picky eater during meal times, it shouldn’t be focused on the TV or device either. Make meal times enjoyable with light conversation by turning off the television, phone and devices. Click through to read about healthy breakfast ideas for kids.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

15. Dessert Isn’t the Reward

I know we’ve all been guilty of encouraging dinner eating by the promise of a sweet treat at the completion of the meal. But that definitely gives kids the message that dessert is more important by making it a reward. In our home, dessert isn’t an every day occurrence. And it’s definitely not always a sugary treat. Consider fruits like strawberries with whipped cream or frozen grapes (cut in half before serving).

16. Don’t Let Them Frazzle You

When my husband and I were first encouraging our daughter to try new things, it was imperative that we not lose our cool with her. A large part of being a picky eater is the control that it brings (speaking as a former picky eater herself!) When parents act like food is no big deal, it frees the child to relax and open up to trying new things just a little bit more.

Offer foods without pressure or bribery. If there is a complete meltdown at the mere suggestion of taking one bite, remove the plate and calmly tell the child to leave the table. Do not offer to prepare a different meal. Kids will either choose be stubborn and go without or they’ll begrudgingly eat what is offered. Just keep your cool and pretend it doesn’t bother you one way or another to get the control issue out of the way.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.


6 Ways Mom Can Squeeze in Healthy Exercise and Nutrition on the Go

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewYearNewWater #CollectiveBias

As a busy mom of four (from toddler to teens!) I spend a lot of my time shuttling kids to school, appointments and activities. As someone who just started taking night school classes, I’m also spending more time studying and doing homework. And as a writer, I spend the rest of my spare time typing at my desk. That’s a lot of sitting during the day!

In between I do try and squeeze in exercise. If I’m home, I’ll take my toddler for a long walk with the stroller through the neighborhood (nap time for her, exercise for me!) You’ll often find me doing squats or stretching in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil. I’ve been on a weight loss journey so I’m trying to choose healthier snacks and keep the treats to a minimum. Moms are busy so we have to squeeze in fitness and healthy nutrition whenever and where ever we can!

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

So what can you do to fit in exercise even when you’re out and about? How can you make sure you’re making the best nutrition choices even on a busy schedule? I’m sharing my ideas on packing healthy essentials in the car for those days when we’re on the go. Think about those times in the school pick-up line when you’re just sitting. Think about all that time you spend with kids at the orthodontist! And how about after you’ve dropped off your child at their activity and you have an hour to burn? Here’s what I keep in my vehicle to take advantage of the healthy ME time!

Walking Shoes

There are times when I’d like to squeeze in some exercise but I didn’t wear the proper shoes. Now I keep a spare pair in my car just in case I have time for a quick walk. Lace ’em up and time yourself to see how quickly you can speed walk around the block.

Healthy Snacks

Resist the urge to stop at the convenience store! Not only are the prices high you’ll be faced with too much temptation in the way of sugary snacks. I keep healthy snacks in my car. Choose things that can handle the warmth inside of your vehicle and not melt, like nuts, seeds, popcorn and dried fruits.

Resistance Bands

The school pick-up line is a hurry and wait sort of thing, with a long line of cars waiting for the bell to ring. I line up and put the car in park. By the time my daughter has reached the car, I’ve completed a small arm workout using resistance bands. Resistance bands take up hardly any space and are lightweight, making them the perfect travel exercise choice.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Journaling

Sometimes a thought will come to me that I want to explore more about. But I don’t want it to be just another “to do” in my calendar. I used to keep a diary as a teen and it was a fantastic way of keeping in touch daily with my thoughts and ideas. Dust off your diary, jot thoughts into a journal and just write, draw or doodle.

Nap Pillow

I asked some friends the other day when was the last time they’d taken a nap. Naturally the ladies without the kids were catching cat naps but the women with little ones hadn’t napped in years! Sometimes all you need is to just close your eyes for a few minutes and be alone with your thoughts. I dropped off my son at a birthday party this weekend and while his toddler sister napped in the car, I had the chance to catch a thirty minute nap myself!

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Hydration

I try my best to stay healthy and make sure I’m taking good care of myself. Getting exercise and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is top on my list. So while I’ve been doing okay on the exercise and my diet has been fairly clean, I’ve still be struggling to drink enough water. I’ve had issues with dehydration in the past because I just don’t take in enough fluid. Plain water isn’t my favorite choice.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

I’ve been choosing wanu water as my refreshing beverage throughout the day. wanu water is delicious and it still tastes like water – just better! In flavors like Peach Passion, Kiwi Cucumber and Watermelon Raspberry, you’re sure to find a favorite. I love these wanu water flavors because they’re more like a treat! I found these wanu water flavors at my local Vons.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

But wanu water is not only hydrating, it’s nutritious as well. Fiber aides in achieving a healthy weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer. wanu water has 6 grams of non-GMO fiber, equivalent of 24% of your recommended daily intake.

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

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How are you taking care of yourself, even on a busy schedule?

How can moms squeeze in exercise and nutrition on the go? These six ideas can help you get more rested, fit and better hydrated. #NewYearNewWater AD

Personal Trainer Food Review – How Important is Convenience to Weight Loss?

People want easy. Simple as that. If it’s too hard, most people aren’t even going to try. That is the honest truth about most things in life. And never more true when it comes to weight loss. Bottom line: People want simple and easy weight loss.

Nobody really wants to make drastic lifestyle changes. Nobody really wants to give up what they enjoy and start doing something that sounds un-fun. And if the scale isn’t moving in the right direction right away, forget about sticking with it…where’s the chocolate cake?! *ahem* Sound familiar?

I think that all of these “don’t wanna do that” things are what kept me overweight for so long. Did I want to lose the weight? YES. But did I want to make the appropriate changes in order to make that happen? No, not really! The thought of having to research what I should and shouldn’t be eating, calorie counting and early morning workouts stopped me in my tracks each time. I was frustrated by the time and careful thought it takes to prepare a wholesome and healthy meal. Add in that weight loss on my own was soooo slow! I wanted to lose the weight but I felt like I just didn’t have the time or energy to commit to it.

So how important is convenience when it comes to weight loss?

I’d venture to say that convenience is VERY high on the list when people finally decide to commit to weight loss. Convenience may be the most important thing. Most people want foods that are easy to prepare. They want meals that they don’t have to think about -grab, heat and eat – without having to worry about calories. And they want quick results. They want to see loose pants and lower numbers on their scale fast.

For me, what finally worked was Personal Trainer Food. It’s easy. It’s convenient. It’s real, healthy food. And it totally works FAST. Comparing the convenience, cost and time-restrictions of making your own food versus using the Personal Trainer Food program, it’s no contest. I’ve lost a total of 13 lbs in 5 weeks on PTF – this program is extremely convenient!

Looking for a weight loss program that is truly convenient and quick but also healthy and nutritious? Read my review series on Personal Trainer Food program from cost, food choices, flavors and convenience factor. AD

If you’re following along with my Personal Trainer Food Review posts, here are the previous posts in the series.

I received a complimentary box from Personal Trainer Food that included 28-days worth of meals and three butter sauces. All thoughts and opinions about this product are my own. Your results on the program may vary. Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Looking for a weight loss program that is truly convenient and quick but also healthy and nutritious? Read my review series on Personal Trainer Food program from cost, food choices, flavors and convenience factor. AD

Convenience Factor #1 – No Grocery Shopping

Not having to go to the store is a huge convenience! With Personal Trainer Food, you can skip the grocery shopping and easily order all the food and snacks you’ll need for an entire MONTH. A few quick clicks on their site to pick and choose all three meals for the day. And it comes straight to your door. Just make plenty of room in the freezer because 28 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner takes up a lot of space.

Will the Personal Trainer Food program work for me, a busy mom over 40? #sponsored

Convenience Factor #2 – No Meal Planning

When on a diet, it can be tricky to know what you should and shouldn’t include in your meals. I love that with Personal Trainer Food I don’t have to plan anything. I just reach into the freezer, pull out a protein and a veggie, heat it up and EAT. No planning necessary, which takes the focus off dieting. Truly convenient, right?

Looking for a weight loss program that is truly convenient and quick but also healthy and nutritious? Read my review series on Personal Trainer Food program from cost, food choices, flavors and convenience factor. AD

Convenience Factor #3 – No Portion Control or Calorie Counting

One of the things that everyone hates about “dieting” is that they constantly feel restricted. On traditional diets, there are food logs, apps for keeping track of foods, caloric calculations and constant measuring of portions. It is such a relief on PTF not to have worry about any of that. Each of the meals is pre-proportioned with the proper amount of protein and carbs.

Convenience Factor #4 – No Hunger

I’ve been on diets in the past and I know you know what I’m talking about here. You’ve already eaten your allotted calories for the day and yet your stomach is still growling. Hunger can leave you so frustrated and give you less willpower to succeed. The portions on PTF are really decently sized. Paired with snacks like cheese, nuts and a daily apple, I’ve never been hungry on this plan. You can purchase some snacks on the PTF site or follow their recommended snack list (it’s sent with your order).

Looking for a weight loss program that is truly convenient and quick but also healthy and nutritious? Read my review series on Personal Trainer Food program from cost, food choices, flavors and convenience factor. AD

Need more? Add cheese, salsa or veggies to your breakfast (no calorie counting!)

Convenience Factor #5 – No Crazy Exercise Routines

I don’t have time to spend hours in the gym, sweating it up everyday. But that’s what we’ve heard works for weight loss. But on PTF, the only exercise that they encourage during the weight loss phase is 20 minutes of walking. Nothing crazy and no huge time commitments. I find it very convenient to squeeze in a quick 20 minutes of walking in my day!

Are you ready to make the weight loss commitment? Check out the Personal Trainer Food program on their website. I highly recommend signing up for their emails (there are frequent coupon codes and specials!)

Taking my 20 minute walk with the baby in the stroller to fit in my daily exercise.


How to Encourage Creativity in Kids

When I was growing up in the 70s, art supplies were always made available to me at home. I had tons of drawing paper, colored construction paper and crayons. I remember raiding my mom’s stock of paper lunch bags so I could make puppets and put on a show. You should have seen the mess in my bedroom! My desk was always littered with art supplies and the floor was sprinkled with bits of cut paper, colored pencil shavings and crayon wrappers. I was a creative slob, for sure. But I was too busy with my art to clean up – I had things to draw, projects to make, art to get on paper!

Last week I was helping my kindergartner craft a Valentine’s box for school. I helped him cover a cereal box with construction paper and we talked about the design he wanted. He wanted to make his box look like a hotel and have windows that opened to reveal a heart inside. I made the first one and then was called away by one of my other kids. This boy knows his way around scissors and a glue stick, so I left him to complete the project. And he handily did so, making several other hearts and windows himself. He was beaming when he showed me his completed project!

Unlike my cluttered bedroom in the 70s, my kids don’t have a space inside the house for art. The six of us live in a very small home so my kids have a desk in the garage for projects. And I definitely make sure that we have a nice supply of art tools at their use. It’s important to me that my kids stay creative. My creativity is definitely a big part of the fabric of my personality!

Why is It Important to Encourage Creativity in Kids?

Art allows for healthy exploration. Kids can safely experiment with art supplies in a way that results in a satisfying end product. Art allows children to have emotional freedom as a way of expressing personality, thoughts and feelings.

Figure out what kind of creative outlet is best for your child. Does you child enjoy the textile feeling of paint on canvas or chalk on textured paper? Or does your kid like building with LEGOS or K’Nex as their method of creativity? What about photography, writing, modeling clay or sewing? There’s a creative thing for each child and it’s fun to experiment with everything to help them find their niche.

I’m sharing 7 ways you can encourage creativity in your kids.

Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

1. Encourage Messes (and Reasonable Clean Up!)

A mess is often the result of creative expression. Getting messy is often how kids get deeply into the creative process (think fingerpaint, glitter and glue!) A mess is okay and kids should feel comfortable with getting messy while creating. When hindered by worry about getting messy, children won’t be as creative so make sure they know it’s okay to get a little messy.

Obviously you’ll need to set up an area for messy art making. Use art drop cloth on the floor, washable table coverings, wear old clothing and use easy-to-clean art supplies. If your child loves LEGO building have an area that they can work on projects without having to put everything away each day.

When art time is over, kids should be made clear on the clean up aspect. Kids of all ages should be able to assist with cleaning up their mess. Even a toddler can learn how to swish paintbrushes in clean water to wash off the extra paint.

5 Budget-friendly Patriotic Summer Crafts for Kids

2. Replace Screens with Art Supplies

There are only so many hours in the day. Would you rather your child’s hours be filled with aimless internet games and TV shows or brain-stimulating creative activities? Limit screen time and encourage art and creativity instead. Consider being a good example as well by setting down your phone and picking up a pencil or paint brush!

Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

3. Dress the Colors of the Rainbow

                                               

Allowing your child to choose their own clothing and accessories is a way for them to express creativity! Clothing that is comfortable, colorful and fun allows kids to express their personality in what they wear. Gymboree is encouraging kids to “follow your art” with clothing that is inspired by creativity. These bright and playful springtime outfits have so much style. And the high quality and great price you can always expect from Gymboree. Click through to see what’s on sale and find out how to get free shipping on your Gymboree order.

                              

 

4. Give them the Artistic Resources

Having the proper tools on hand is essential to the creative process. Go through the supplies you already have and see what your child could use creatively. Bits of fabric, scrapbook paper and ribbon might not look like enough to you, but for a child they could make their own greeting cards with these supplies.

Organize the basics like glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, scissors and craft paper into storage bins for easy access. Extra items like watercolor paint, gel pens, modeling clay and paint brushes can go into additional bins.

Visit Crayola for special savings on all the best art supplies you need for your crafts!Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

5. It’s About the Process, Not the End Result

For toddlers and younger children, art is not about the final result. They couldn’t care less if their artwork looks like it went through a tornado – they’re PROUD of it!! And you should be too. For little kids, creativity is about the process. It’s in the touching and textiles. It’s in the fine motor skills of holding a crayon, drawing a line or cutting with scissors. Don’t worry about what their project looks like because your young kids don’t care.

Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

6. Put Art on Display

While your littest ones don’t really care about the end result, you can believe that older kids who put lots of attention into the process want the best results! And that means your attention to what they’ve created. So if they’ve written a poem, painted a picture, or even just glued cotton balls to a piece of construction paper, put that art on display!

Find a clever way to show off your children’s artistic abilities, even if it’s a magnet on the fridge. I love the idea of a clothesline with rotating art work. We had this wire with tiny magnets in my daughter’s room so she could change things out as she wished. Save a few favorites in a bin each year (don’t forget to write the date on it somewhere!)

Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

7. There Are No “Mistakes” in Art

One of the best rules of thumb to keep in mind when encouraging creativity in children – Art doesn’t have MISTAKES. Kids should feel comfortable creating what they feel without repercussion of doing it “wrong”. No helicopter parenting here. Even if you don’t like what your kids are making or you feel like they could be doing it another way, it’s important in this case to hold your tongue. Being creative is UNIQUE. Let your children be creative without your input, offering only encouragement and praise. You’ll see how their creativity will bloom!

Looking for fun ways to encourage creativity in kids? These 7 ideas allow for freedom of expression in inexpensive and easy ways!

7 Inexpensive and Lovable Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids

Kids really do get into the Valentine’s Day spirit of love and friendship. Maybe it’s the classroom Valentine’s card exchange at school. Maybe it’s the warm and fuzzy feeling woven throughout the month. But more likely it’s the sweet candy and treats! Okay, let’s give children a little more credit. While the school parties and special desserts are fun, I think that kids just naturally love to LOVE. And Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to express that.

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids

I’m sharing some fun Valentine’s ideas for your kids. These 7 ideas will give you inexpensive and lovable ways to share the holiday with your kids. And so not to leave out the littles, I’ve included Valentine’s Day ideas for toddlers, too. There are also some real, memorable ways to create a deeper connection with your kids (with this holiday as the reason to begin a step in that direction).

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Looking to make real, meaningful connections with your children this Valentine's Day? These inexpensive and lovable Valentine's Day ideas for kids are practical and fun tips help make your Valentine's lovely.

My son was SO proud of his handmade Valentine! I have it in my keepsake box 🙂

1. Family Card Exchange

So the kids have already exchanged cards and treats with friends at school. Creating homemade cards for family members is a great way to show off creativity and love (especially for little siblings that don’t yet go to school). No need to be perfect, just let the feelings fly.

A simple construction paper card with a sweet sentiment inside is so meaningful. A new box of customized Crayola crayons will encourage the creativity! Draw a picture or paste a photo inside for an added touch. These are the memories to hold in your heart forever. I still cherish the handmade card that my son made for me so many years ago.

Looking to make real, meaningful connections with your children this Valentine's Day? These inexpensive and lovable Valentine's Day ideas for kids are practical and fun tips help make your Valentine's lovely.

2. Valentine’s Day Breakfast

No need to go crazy – even just doing one thing out of the ordinary will make it a special meal to kick start Valentine’s Day. Doughnuts are always a welcome treat in my book! Sprinkle chocolate chips on the pancake batter in the shape of a heart. Add red food coloring to a glass of milk to make a “pink drink”. I love this idea of cutting fruit into heart shapes for the ultimate Valentine’s Day fruit salad!

Click the image to see more on Pinterest! 

Looking to make real, meaningful connections with your children this Valentine's Day? These inexpensive and lovable Valentine's Day ideas for kids are practical and fun tips help make your Valentine's lovely.

Watermelon Heart Salad from A Designer Life

3. Perform a Loving Act

Just like kids love to give presents at Christmas, they enjoy the giving of their affections on Valentine’s Day as well. This is a great time to show your kids different ways of loving. We can show our love for all people with service, including volunteering to help others. Start with your church or ask in your local community for ways that your children can help.

Here’s a super cute loving act that kids would enjoy – making a Valentine’s Day birdfeeder to hang in a tree. Bet the birdies would love it!

Click the image to see more on Pinterest! 

Looking to make real, meaningful connections with your children this Valentine's Day? These inexpensive and lovable Valentine's Day ideas for kids are practical and fun tips help make your Valentine's lovely. Valentine’s Day Birdfeeders from Wine and Glue

4. A Lovable Outfit or Accessory

Let kids wear their heart on their sleeve (literally!)

ShopDisney has some adorable Valentine’s Day tees. There are also sweet love-themed accessories that can be worn all-year round, like these cute socks and Mickey & Minnie Love Alex and Ani bangles (perfect for tween and teen girls!)

Before I had a million kids, I used to make them a special shirt for every holiday! They really loved wearing their handcrafted creations. If you have a sewing machine and basic skills, you can put together this adorable Valentine’s Day heart tee in about two hours. Click through for the DIY tutorial.

5. Valentine’s Homemade Crafts

Take the time to sit down and create something together with your kids this season. Okay, so I haven’t gotten into the make-your-own slime thing but I know that kids LOVE it! There are lots of other crafty things you can do with the kids during Valentine’s. This paper heart wreath is adorable (and what kid doesn’t love to wield the stapler!) Best part? Totally mess-free!!

Click the image to see more on Pinterest! 

Paper Heart Wreath tutorial from hello, Wonderful

6. Read a Loving Story Together

My littlest kids especially love to snuggle with mom and dad to read stories. Those are special memories for sure.

A Valentine’s Day themed book (like our favorite, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch) is a great bedtime read-aloud for young elementary.

My baby daughter thinks that this book, Disney Baby I Love You This Much! is the best.

Tweens and teens may love having a journal for writing down their thoughts (since actually expressing them outloud might prove to be too challenging!) There’s a plain version (JAM Paper Notebook with Elastic Band) and also one with an embossed heart (Writing Journal with Gold Heart).

7. Give Your Child the Gift of YOU

Ever read about the The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts? There are additional books in this series that help you to love children and teens more deeply. I can’t think of a better Valentine’s gift from a parent to a child than your time, your attention and a deeper and more connected love!

Looking for a few more ideas? You might like this post about Cheap Ideas for Valentine’s Day!

Looking to make real, meaningful connections with your children this Valentine's Day? These inexpensive and lovable Valentine's Day ideas for kids are practical and fun tips help make your Valentine's lovely.