My son is an incredibility fussy eater. I can only blame myself. When he was young, I gave him lots of options if he didn’t like what was put in front of him. When his sister came along and I got busier the options narrowed down to one – ‘if you don’t like what’s in front of you, it’s baked beans’, which he once ate for a week solid! Clearly too much of a good thing.
Nowadays his palate has broadened, but it’s still not where I would like it to be. This is what I learned through those early experiences;
1. Make it fun – small children are easily turned off by food that doesn’t look appealing, so when serving tomato pasta for instance, I made a face with cooked pasta on top. At least he smiles before he starts eating
2. Encourage them to help out with dinner so they feel like they have some control over the process. My son doesn’t like things mixed together (he learnt early on that I’d stir in things that he doesn’t like). But, for some reason, he likes to create his own parfait (excuse my French) with yoghurt, fruit and muesli. I think he likes making the layers.
3. Add some cinnamon to vegetables. It makes almost any food taste sweeter, even though it doesn’t contain any sugar. Try it with carrots or apples.
4. Hummus. High in protein, hummus is healthy and has a mild flavour, so use it on sandwiches or as a dip.
5. Offer a smorgasbord. Toddlers like to graze their way through a variety of foods, so use this to your advantage by offering an array of apple, cheese, banana, carrots (steamed to make them soft if your child is really young), cut up hard boiled eggs and avocado. This has a table-life of about two hours, so make sure they are hungry.
6. Make the servings small sized. A child’s stomach is approximately the size of his fist. A big plate of food definitely put off my son, so serve smaller portion sizes.
Above all I learned that my job is to buy the right food, cook it in a nutritious way (steaming for example) and serve it creatively. The
rest is up to him, how much he eats and when he eats (within limits) and if he eats at all. I can’t force him and I now adopt a neutral attitude to dinner time, not phased either way. Definitely easier said than done but, at some point, he’ll be hungry.
What hints and tips do you have? Since every child is different, I am sure there are loads of other tips.
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