We all hope that our children will happily eat whatever we give them at meals times, however this dream is often far from a reality for many of us parents – myself included.
Both of mine did eat everything I gave to them as babies, one was fed with homemade purees and jars when I was feeling less than enthusiastic, while the other was baby led weaned eating whatever we were having for our meals. Now both are fussy in their own rights – Emmy won’t eat anything with spices or any heat to it preferring plain pasta with grated cheese if she could have her own way but she does happily munch away on plates full of vegetables, and Harry loves sushi, prawns and curries but won’t eat Bolognese, stew and prefers his foods not to be touching on the plate.
Of course it is perfectly normal for children especially babies and toddlers to refuse new foods but try not to worry about their food intake too much, if they are active, gaining weight and doing well then they are generally eating enough.
Gradually introduce new foods and keep going back to those foods your child didn’t previously like as their tastes change over time – I’m sure you can remember not liking curry or a tomato based sauce maybe but if you ate them now you may actually like them, I ALWAYS hated coffee preferring to drink only tea, but since having children I can’t stomach tea and live off coffee many days.
I’ve teamed up with Portmeirion to bring you ten top tips for meal times
10 Top Tips for parents of fussy eaters:
- Eat together at meal times
Eating together as a family, even if that if just one parent if the other is still out at work helps to encourage children to eat more. They won’t feel they are missing out on something which may be more fun and it can be a great time to bond, talk about your day, find out what they’ve done at school and it helps to take the pressure off of focusing on how much they eat. Plus, it means they won’t kept getting up from the table to talk to you as you’ll be there with them.
- Eat the same meals together
Try to give your children the same meals as you are all eating, of course remembering not to add salt to the children’s. If they see you eating something it will encourage them to try it too. If you say broccoli is disgusting they will believe that to be true so try to put just a little on your plate even if you need to eat with something else to disguise the taste. Children follow by example and you are their teacher here.
- Smaller portions for children
Just because you’ve cooked a big dinner doesn’t mean children will eat it all, their stomachs are much smaller than ours and they become fuller quicker.
- Get them involved in shopping and meal planning
Make a list of things they would like to eat and take them to the supermarket to help buy those ingredients. Most children like to help, even if it can be a little frustrating for us parents. Give them a list or draw pictures on paper of the items you need and let them tick them off as you go around the shops together.
- Make dinner together
Take a deep breath, prepare everything in advance and let them help make their own dinner. Mine love nothing more than adding the ingredients for dinner into the pans, adding the liquids and stirring it to help me. I cut the meats and the vegetables when they are younger and they place into the pans. When they get older they help to peel the potatoes, cut the carrots etc – with careful supervision of course.
One of their favourite things to make is make your own pizzas. I have all the ingredients out on the table ready and they pick their own toppings carefully.
You can add a variety of foods into bowls, onto plates and they can try them as they go along and is a perfect way to get them tasting new foods as well as having fun in the process.
Making funny faces or even pretty patterns to their food helps keep them interested, and if you use a small premade pizza base its not only quicker but takes only around 5-7 minutes to cook so by the time they’ve washed their hands and you’ve cleaned the table the food is ready to eat.
- Don’t force your child to clear their plate
Your child may have eaten enough, be full up or not hungry at that time. Force feeding them will cause more issues and create an anxiety around food. You could put the food aside and try again later if they’ve not eaten anything.
- Have special plates, cutlery just for them
Do they have a favourite character or even a favourite colour? You can easily find TV characters or book characters in many stores, or they could have their favourite colour instead. Cutlery designed for children is easier to use than adults ones too as their hands are smaller – I’ve even seen some which are shaped like aeroplanes or diggers which look great fun for younger children.
- Have friends or grandparents/cousins over for dinner
Distraction works really well at meal times, if there are new faces around the table they will be chatting away or involved in the interaction more than thinking about what is on their plates. Sharing meals work well at these times and picnic foods – have a selection of foods in the middle of the table and they can help themselves to whatever they want.
- Avoid too many snacks
If your child if full from snacks, even healthy ones such as raisins, yogurts and fruits they won’t eat their main meals. Try to limit snacking to 2 small healthy snacks a day – treats can be for after main meals if you choose.
- Avoid leaving meals until they are too hungry or too tired
You know yourself, if you are too tired you really won’t want to sit and eat a big meal, nor if you go passed being hungry, children are exactly the same but just won’t voice this too you so you have to work it out yourself – just to add to the pressure and stresses of parenthood – we have to be mind readers too!
You can read other Top Tips from a Former nanny posts here.
Portmeirion very kindly provided us with The Hungry Caterpillar items pictured here for our post, aren’t they beautiful? They are also offering one of you lovely readers the chance to win a 3 piece dinner set of your very own. This set consists of a porcelain plate, bowl and cup featuring the very hungry caterpillar on all 3 items and on the cup you have the caterpillar on one side and a butterfly on the other side. This beautiful set has a RRP of £29.
For your chance to win, please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway will close at midnight on 9th September 2018. and is open to UK entrants only. Good Luck