Many people found lockdown especially difficult. Spending more time inside was never going to be easy, particularly for parents of young children.
It's hard enough keeping children entertained, exercised, dealing with changes in sleep, tantrums, arguments - and that's in normal times....
But what should you do if lockdown made mealtimes even more challenging? A report from OFSTED in the UK recognized the problem and the extent of its impact on children of all ages.
The impact of the pandemic on children at mealtimes
Peer to peer interaction is something that many children will have missed out during lockdown. Where children would have sat down at mealtimes together with their peers and had the opportunity to copy and learn, they have missed out. Where they would have sat as a social group and started to develop the key social skills we all need as we grow up, they have missed out. Practice makes perfect so they say. And missing some of the key opportunities to do this will no doubt have an impact. That's certainly something that lockdown forced upon us.
So what can we do about it?
At doddl, we specialize in helping children learn to eat with utensils - so that's the part we're most familiar with. And if lockdown made mealtimes more challenging, don't despair.
Make mealtimes a social occasion
Create a peer to peer experience at mealtimes. Even if you only have one child - or children of varying ages, try and sit down together as a family to eat your meals. Move baby or toddler from a standalone high chair to the table (even if they are still sitting in the high chair) so they can see everyone eating together.
Variety is the spice of life
Make different types of foods. At school or kindergarten their foods will taste different to your normal home cooked meals. Create meals and snacks to enable them to taste different types of foods.
Make it easy
Make it easy for them to eat with silverware (that's where doddl comes in). The reality is that the 'utensil struggle' has a significant impact on a child's ability to enjoy their food, and their mealtimes' This also limits the social benefits of eating with their family (or peers) at the dinner table. That's precisely why we invented utensils to help children eat more easily because, with standard silverware, it isn't easy at the best of times.
Get some fun back into mealtimes, so it doesn't become a battle. Ask your child to color in placemats or write name places for dinner time. Or get them involved in setting the table (no matter how they chaotically they do it..!).
Help your little one to be involved in cooking and preparing the food. If you're too busy (or exhausted) in the evening, maybe do an afternoon of batch cooking with them. If they see what goes into their meals, and they are involved in making it they will be more likely to sit down and eat it. The doddl knife can help here too, because it will help your little one safely chop to their heart's content!
Hopefully doing all, or some, of the above might recreate at least some of the opportunities your little one may have missed during lockdown. And will help turn mealtimes in to an adventure for little hungry minds 😍