It's all about fun!

Funny face salad

Food preference between the ages of 2 and 4 have been shown to be indicators of preference later in life.  Does that scare you knowing how fussy your little one is?  Combined with the issue of ‘ants in their pants’?  Sitting still is a complete chore for anything – in the stroller, in the car, at the table.  Now is the time to pull out all the tactics to influence towards a varied diet!  Meal times are no longer just about what to feed them, but how to entertain them to keep them interested and eating.  Here are some ideas that may help to keep them engaged:

  • Talk about foods by the colour ‘which one is the yellow one? How about trying some of red one’.
  • Present their meals in a more interesting way - buy some paper plates with different patterns or pictures on them, use bowels or mini meals in cups, try different cutlery.
  • Use edible plates such as a lettuce leaf or a scooped out bread bun
  • When making new dishes, expect them to be rejected (children are very wary of new foods), but eat them in front of them and keep offering them, they will eventually try them.
  • Be subtle in your role modeling and persuasion.  If Grandma is there, encourage her to make comments about how yummy the uneaten food is, and ask for more.
  • If they have friends that are similar age that are good at eating, get them round more often!
  • Try switching meals around and having their meat and vegetables at lunch time if this meal is more of a struggle – evenings can be more challenging due to tiredness, and if you know they have had a good serving of vegetables at lunch, this can take the pressure off the evening
  • Don’t compromise – ie if they don’t eat what you serve, don’t give up and give them something they like.
  • Don’t give too much attention to what they don’t eat, however give plenty of praise to what they do eat
  • Get them to choose the vegetables for the evening (out of a range selected by you of course)
  • Just serve small portions – big ones can be too overwhelming.

Remember the effort put in now will pay dividends down the track, having a child and teenager with a varied (argument free) diet.