Supporting your child to enjoy a range of food doesn’t need to be stressful and hard. A key action at mealtimes is to make it easy for your child to help themselves.
- If you’re serving new or unfamiliar food then place it on the table on a sharing plate or bowl and help yourself first.
- Tell your child what the food is but don’t ask them if they want to eat, taste or try it!
- Also make sure there is something on the table that they generally enjoy eating.
- Put everything within their reach, and make it super simple for them to put some on their own plate/bowl without asking for your help or attracting attention to themselves.
- Don’t ask them what they think it tastes like – or ask them to do anything at all – allow your child to ask the questions! They are learning to enjoy different foods and engaging their curiosity is important.
- If they ask what it tastes like then discuss it openly as if they are an adult.
- Give them space and time to think about it and choose what to do.
- If they choose to take some of the new food and eat it, then ask them afterwards: “what did it taste like?”
- If they choose not to put any of the new food onto their plate then that is their decision, but don’t offer an alternative (you have ensured that there is something else they generally enjoy available and that is enough).
- Keep offering the new food regularly at other meals, alongside something they are familiar with. This is the hardest step! Most parents stop after offering a new food a handful of times, but many children need much more time to learn than this.
There are many other things you can do and say to help your child eat well: sign up for weekly emails to get more inspiration! www.bettermealtimes.org.uk
My ultimate book to encourage children to eat vegetables is:
“Vegetable Glue” by Susan Chandler and Elena Odriozola
Brilliantly funny, great illustrations, and conveys the healthy eating message in an unusual and accessible way for children.
I cannot recommend highly enough, just thinking about it makes me smile!
Click HERE to see the book on Amazon:
I like variety at mealtimes and often experiment with my cooking. This week I was reminded that simplifying food can be a good thing, and not to over-think what to cook!
A friend of my son’s comes for tea regularly, so I know some of his favourite meals. Struggling for inspiration this week with a fridge of leftovers, I remembered that he loves pasta with pesto sauce and chicken or bacon.
“That’s boring”, I thought, but I had bacon pieces and pesto in the fridge so I started frying the bacon pieces. Then I chopped a green and red pepper and added them to the pan, thinking “they’re going to pick the pepper bits out”.
After putting the wholewheat spaghetti on to boil, I added a good scoop of pesto, some half-fat creme fraiche and a bit of milk to the bacon & peppers and heated it through. The meal took less than half an hour to prepare. “This feels like cheating”, I thought.
I drained the spaghetti, mixed it with the sauce and put it in bowls. The three boys all added grated parmesan – and wolfed the whole lot. And they all say they don’t really like peppers! Hmmmm. Time to simplify? 🙂