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This genius parenting hack is how Dylan Dreyer gets her son to enjoy healthy meals

The tray is a fun way to get kids excited about trying new foods.
Illustration of Dylan Dreyer and son Calvin cooking in their home and a tray filled with snacks
Courtesy Dylan Dreyer / TODAY

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Every parent knows that getting their little one to load up on fruits and veggies is easier said than done. Let's face it, cookies and fruit snacks sounds much more fun than carrots and apple slices. TODAY's Dylan Dreyer, mom of two boys with a third on the way, however, may have found a great way to encourage healthy eating.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Dylan shared how she gets her four-year-old son, Calvin, to actually enjoy a balanced meal. The secret? A dinosaur-themed serving tray that her mother-in-law gifted to him.

"Now Calvin loves snack lunches when he’s home … and I can mix in fruit and veggies and cheese and just check off a whole bunch of healthy things while throwing in some fun stuff that he gets excited about," Dylan told us. "It’s a win/win … as long as I have enough food in the house!"

Almost like a board game, the tray features a path of compartments that can hold different-sized portions of food, so kids can enjoy a few bites of a healthy fixing and then move on to the next square. Dylan filled the tray with a little bit of everything (tuna noodle salad, blueberries, avocado and cookies, amongst other things) that Cal enjoys, so he can eat a full meal without craving a snack afterwards.

The uniquely-designed dinner tray caught the interest of other parents who began commenting and asking how they could get their hands on the novel item for their own children and grandchildren.

"Where is the tray from? Love it, need it!" wrote one Instagram user. Another commenter chimed in, "I like the tray @dylandreyernbc can you share where you got it? It would be nice for me to have for my small grandkids."

It's pediatrician-approved

Dr. Candice Jones, an Orlando, Florida-based pediatrician, told Shop TODAY that the plate and its different designs can "tie into making the eating experience more fun, especially those foods that may not be their favorite, or that they would normally refuse."

Since there are eight portions on the tray, you can ensure that they are eating a well-rounded meal as they munch their way through the forest or dinosaur land (two of the six different themes the tray comes in). Additionally, Jones says the design of the plates make it so eating becomes more of an interactive experience. However, she notes, parents should always make sure that they are preparing the food into bite size pieces and that their child is not overeating.

It's highly-rated by parents on Amazon

Parents on Amazon and social media had given the tray high praise for how it helped them tackle picky eaters.

"My son absolutely loves these plates and is honestly eating more than ever as he is focused on getting to the end," wrote a parent who gave the tray a full five-star rating on Amazon.

"Okay... judge all you want... I'm clearly not above bribery, or making 'dinner fun'... but I got my boy to eat all his onions and green peppers!! A whole deconstructed fajita. He's eaten fish, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, salad and anything I fill on the plate. He eats it in order of the game path too," one parent wrote.

Another parent that was satisfied with the before-and-after photos of a full-plate-turned-full-stomach says they "highly recommend if you have a child with trouble eating new foods or struggling to eat a full meal."

Another reviewer wrote that they purchased the tray after seeing it on TikTok, and noted in a five-star review that it is "easy and usable" and "great for all kids."

There are six different patterns to choose from, including "Enchanted Forest" and "Supper Hero," so you can make a meal that any kid will enjoy, regardless of their interests.

Below are fun and exciting tray options that, while it might not make healthy options the only thing kids will want to devour, it will make them more enjoyable!

Genuine Fred Dino Time Kid's Tray

Kids Dinner Plate for Picky Eating

KidsFunwares 4-Square Meal Plate

SpinMeal Spin the Arrow Plate

KidsFunwares Chew-Chew Train Dinnerware Set with Utensils

Linowos Silicone Suction Plate with Fork Spoon Set

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