Rockabye Early Learning Centre takes the care and education of young children and their families seriously. Today Louise Sladen, the centre supervisor, gives some tips for making mealtimes more enjoyable.
We all have a fairytale idea of mealtimes with our children: chatting and laughing with everyone happily tucking into their food. But if you are unfortunate enough to have a fussy eater in your family then this all changes…mealtimes can become highly stressful and the dinner table becomes a battleground.
If this is you and your family then you should know you are most definitely not alone. I am continually asked for ideas to deal with fussy eaters. This is a widespread problem affecting many families.
- Ensure children sit down to eat enabling eating times to be relaxed and sociable.
- Serve small portions – a large portion can put children off. They can always ask for more.
- Watch the drinks – as these can fill small tummies up.
- When possible eat with your children so they can see you eating the same food.
- Involve your child in meal preparation to increase their interest in food.
- Give a variety of healthy foods, don’t give up after the first attempt. It often takes up to 12 introductions before a new food is accepted.
- Make food fun and attractive on the plate. This way it will be inviting for children to eat.
- Be a good role model. When children see others enjoying a food, they are more likely to try it and enjoy it themselves.
- Avoid giving snacks right before mealtimes. If your child asks for food just before a meal, try to think of an activity to divert their attention.
- Renaming food with cool names can convince reluctant eaters to try them – power peas, apple moons (thinly sliced), banana wheels, broccoli trees, carrot swords to name a few.
- Remember to praise your children when they are trying new foods.
Finally, converting your children from being picky eaters won’t happen over night, but over time their taste buds will change. The more opportunities you give them to try new things, the less fussy they will be. Good luck – there are so many food ideas online to help you with this challenging part of raising children.