As busy working parents ourselves, we know that unpredictable toddlers and their food habits can be, well, challenging to say the least.
Just as you think they have them all figured out, they go and throw a spanner in the works and change their minds all over again! And usually, just as you’ve stocked up on whatever their ‘favourite’ thing was (this week).
We thought we’d put our heads together and share with you a few hacks we’ve learned along this wild journey of parenting when it comes to getting toddlers to just eat their tea…
- Master the three t’s – Taste, texture and temperature are all really important when it comes to fussy eaters. Anything slightly different can cause a meltdown, so make sure it’s all mixed thoroughly to help prevent fussiness.
- Do add spices – Wse a hint of chilli, curry powder and other spices to your cooking to get them used to eating foods with flavour that’s just sugary sauces.
- Go easy on the salt – In fact, avoid it completely if you can.
- Leave food prejudices at the door – Don’t influence your kids by telling they will or won’t like something – let them try and see what they like.
- Don’t mention healthy – Don’t focus on food being healthy. Present it. Enjoy it. Eat it.
- There are no alternatives on the menu – Make sure they realise that this is dinner – there is no substitute. No child EVER deliberately starved themselves. Bring forward the next meal if they refuse. Remember sometimes they might simply not be hungry.
- Tickle tastebuds by presenting food in fun ways – Make food into a funny face, separate it by colour, provide pots of fruit or cheese, cut sandwiches into interesting shapes etc.
- Make eating a game – Ask, “can you eat like a… dinosaur… a rabbit… a tortoise” etc.
- Try and eat together at a table – No TV or screens for anyone. It’s a good habit and gives you time as a family to talk, to have fun, ask questions and more.
- Try again with previously rejected foods – Keep putting it on the plate and encourage small tastes – they may end up actually enjoying it. Did anyone really like mushrooms when they were small?
- Offer limited choices – Carrots or peas, broccoli or beans?
- Be prepared – Fill the fruit bowl so there’s always a healthy choice at hand.
- Get the kids involved in food prep – Kneed pizza dough and freeze in individual balls. Kids love making their own pizzas and can use our cutlery to help chop up the toppings too.
- Keep them hydrated – Have a jug of water on the table at dinner times and offer water before juice!
What hacks have you discovered over the years?