Dealing with picky young eaters
We’ve all witnessed or experienced difficulties at meal times when a child just doesn’t want to eat something.
It may be a food that they have never tried before or were perfectly happy to pop in their mouth yesterday but today it’s the worst food ever! Here are some tips to get the little ones in your life trying out more adventurous foods and making meal times an enjoyable occasion for everyone
Giving them what they want (and a little bit extra)
If you bombard a child with too much new stuff, they are almost certainly going to rebel. Routine and repetition are their modus operandi, so when it comes to foods, a new item on their plate alongside the familiar food they love has a better chance of making it into their tummy. But don’t get discouraged if they immediately refuse to play ball: it might take one or two attempts for it to work.
Making it fun
Sticking a plate of new food down on the table and expecting a child to gratefully demolish the contents without another word is cloud cuckoo land stuff. Children will respond to a little creative thinking when it comes to meal times, so why not try turn the food into a face-shape or have different colours separated out. Maybe you could give the individual ingredients funny names or play a guessing game eg. ‘how many mouthfuls are left on your plate’? And food that can miraculously ‘talk’ is another cunning tactic.
Get them involved
If they’re at an age when they can put a bib on, then why not have them in the kitchen with you helping out with the creation of the meal. This could include tasks such as weighing items, unpeeling skins or pulling stalks off (probably best to wait a few years before they start chopping garlic with a knife), maybe graduating to creating a pizza topping, setting the table and getting drinks for everyone. This will help introduce them to new ingredients and make them curious about their taste.
Change the venue
If your meal times have reached the war of attrition stage, how about shifting location away from the table for a spell and trying somewhere new: the living room floor on a rug with some favourite (and hungry) toys around or outside (weather dependent) in a tent. And remember, any kind of encouragement you can give will always go down just as well as the food itself.
What’s your top tip for turning around a fussy eater?