Simplify toddler’s food choices with magnetized pictures

Phot frame magnetsI so admire Fautina's willingness to adjust her communication with her son (a post in and of itself!):

My two year old son is a little behind in his speech. Someone suggested I take photos of his favorite foods and put them on the fridge so that he could point out what he wanted to eat. I got some photo holder magnets and put in a few foods to start, once I realized how wonderful of an idea it was I quickly began taking photos of every food that he eats at home. I only keep the photos on the fridge of foods that we have currently on hand, that I’m willing to make, or that are appropriate for the time of day (no ice cream photo at breakfast). While I took photos of most of the foods myself (I am a photographer) it was just as easy to find some online, or to even cut out pictures from packaging. 

This has been so wonderful because my son can really show me what he wants.  It also gives us a chance to talk about the foods that he chooses (hopefully developing his language skills).  Without this hack I would have never known that what my son really wanted to eat at 5 am was a bowl of pasta that we had made for dinner the night before – he ate the whole bowl!


  1. WG says

    Something to keep in mind–one of the tips I got from my son’s SLP was to change our son’s environment so that he had to ASK for things. So rather than making it easy for him to gesture, point, or take what he wants, force him to communicate. Of course, with a neurotypical kid, this is probably a terrific approach, particularly if, as Fautina describes, you use the gesture as a jumping-off point for conversation. I just know my own laziness, and if I made it easy for my kid to just point at what he wanted, I’d leave it at that. :-)

  2. Jen O. says

    I LOVE this. My daughter doesn’t have any speech delays, but I like this because you only put up the pictures of the foods that are actually available for her to have. So there shouldn’t be any argument (ha!) If she wants ice cream for breakfast, you can ‘explain’ to her that the fridge says that there isn’t any ice cream this morning, and maybe the fridge will let her have ice cream in the afternoon.

  3. Reba says

    Funny, my 2yo son asks for ice cream for breakfast almost everyday. Nice to know I am not alone in that. Although with the length of time it takes me to get around to uploading/printing pics, he would starve!

  4. CH says

    I love this hack for what it is, but I also love it because the first thing my 2.5 year old daughter said when I walked in her room this morning was “I want some ice cream, please.”

    My daughter is extremely verbal but when it comes to food we have a hard time getting her to eat something that’s not right in front of her. Offering her something may or may not work, but putting it in front of her often helps. Of course then I run the risk of pulling out different things just to see if viewing them will entice her to eat them only to have her ignore all the choices and leaving me with a bunch of snacks to clean up (I don’t offer a huge buffet of things, but let’s face it, we all like choices) This is a great in between — she can see the stuff and perhaps have a craving sparked, but it doesn’t involve multiple bowls of food on the off chance that she wants one.

  5. Sandy says

    We figured out that if we stopped buying snacks, junk food and ice creams, and set the right food in front of my kid when he is hungry, it works. If he does not want the food, we tell him he has to eat 3 or 5 mouthfuls and then he gets a PB sandwich (can’t do jelly) or a cup of milk. If he wants anything else, the response is: “Sorry, we don’t have it.”

    This has worked for us since he has been eating solid foods at 15 mo and he is now just over 3 yo. It works most of the time and there are times when we have to tolerate tantrums. We have had to put our foot down in front of grandparents who mean well and don’t want to see the little dude’s “feelings hurt”.

    We don’t have snacks at home except crackers and some cinnamon cookies. But there is always a meal in the refrigerator or freezer that is a stand-by whenever the kid says “I want food” and my cooking isn’t done.