You’ve heard it time and time again. Providing your child with a healthy, balanced diet is of the utmost importance when cooking for kids – particularly in the formative years. But try explaining that to your picky little eater!
This doesn’t have to mean every meal time needs to become a stand-off or a plea deal, though.
As parents the world over have experienced similar picky eater frustrations, a wealth of helpful resources have been developed to help you better navigate meal time.
Understand that you can take neither the credit nor the blame for what your child does or doesn’t eat. Your responsibility is to buy healthy food and prepare it in a nutritious way. When your child eats and how much your child chooses to eat is, for the most part, left up to them.
Since erratic eating habits are normal for toddlers, aim for a healthy week of eating as opposed to a healthy day.
Fill the compartments of a muffin tray or compartmentalised dish with bite-size portions of a variety of colourful and nutritious foods like apple, boiled egg, carrots, cereal, banana, broccoli and cheese.
Place the dish on an easy-to-reach surface for your child to nibble from throughout the day.
Where possible, employ the help of a little assistant in the kitchen.
Picky eaters are more likely to eat food they’ve played a role in preparing.
Sometimes children may come across as being ‘picky’ simply because they are craving more independence and want to feed themselves.
To nurture the sense of independent eating, offer your child safe finger foods that they can feed themselves, or allow them to dish up their own food.
To create the illusion of your child being in control of their food, allow them to decide where different foods are placed on their plates, or offer them a spoon to hold while you feed them
Your child might be more open to the idea of drinking than eating. If this is the case, make healthy smoothies for your child – together. Milk, fruit, juice, honey, egg powder, Greek yoghurt and peanut butter are often the basis for healthy meals and are therefore great ingredients for nutritious smoothies.
Little busy bodies are constantly being stimulated by new sights and sounds which can often compete with the appeal of mealtimes.
Use cookie cutters to provide meals in interesting shapes, use sauces to add a little colour (or even camouflage), or think of creative ways to use your child’s toys in the presentation of their food
Have you ever tried eating while sitting on a bar stool? It’s normal for you to start squirming and feel the need to get up and move around.
Children respond similarly when their feet dangle at dinner time.Try seating your child at a children’s table or creating a way for their feet not to dangle at the family table.
Minimise all distraction by ensuring that meal time is relaxed and quiet. The sound of cartoons playing in the next room, or a sibling walking around, are enough to make a toddler’s attention stray from the plate.