Getting children to eat can be a difficult task. As adults, we tend to be impatient and want to get on with other things. Children are unique, have different needs at a particular time. We can make eating fun for children and less stressful for us. All we need to do is exercise patience when handling children. Try to figure out ways to make mealtimes enjoyable and everybody will be happy.
Being a mum, I know how I sometimes struggle to get my kids to eat. Sometimes, I learn new recipes and prepare them, only for the kids to turn it down. It cannot be very encouraging, but I keep trying different methods. So, I came up with some creative tips which I have tried, and it’s working quite well. My children and I are happy, enjoying, and try new food.
Here are a few tips on making food creative for your child
- Create their food into their favourite toy or animal -E.g., you can create a teddy bear or a smiley face on the plate. It makes the child, get curious and interested to try.
2. Make food look very colourful – You can add different vegetables in small quantities on a plate. Colours attract children, and they will enjoy playing with the food while it is going into the mouth.
3. Get them to decorate their food – Provide resources such as toast bread, banana, strawberry, butter, peanut butter, jam, and chocolate spread. It is whatever you want!
4. Do role-play activities – Activities such as chef, baker, or even hosting a tea party can help during mealtime. Let the kids explore their imaginations. Talk about foods they like and the ones they dislike while playing.
5. Turn the veggies into a puree for picky eaters – For picky eaters turn vegetables that they don’t like to see in whole into puree, smoothie or soup.
6. Ask your children if it is safe to do so, to help in the kitchen – Try asking them to mix some ingredients, especially when baking cookies or cake. They will be very interested in joining in and will be anticipating eating the cookies afterwards.
7. Make mealtimes fun time for babies. Sing sweet songs while feeding them. Put a smiling face; babies can tell how we feel through our facial expression. If you are anxious, your baby can feel it and thereby reject the food. Do not force a baby to feed, let them eat at their own pace, and go with the flow.
8. Talk about the benefits of eating fruits and veggies with toddlers and teenagers. Create a storytime with food. Especially for toddlers, say things you can make from it. E.g.Mr carrot is orangey, looks like a pyramid. The leaves are tall and beautiful. Mr carrot can turn into soup, carrot cake, roasted, cooked, fried, or smoothie. We can eat Mr. Carrot raw or cook it.
9. Use a shape cutter to create cute shapes of food and fruits. Your kids will be excited to see those shapes on their plates. When I go to a restaurant, and the waiter presents the meal to me, I, first of all, look at the plate, the presentation of the food attracts me to eat it.
10. Use plates with partitions. It makes the food look more organised, and your child can easily pick what they want first. It brings out the beauty of the art in the diet.
Few tips to guarantee the effectiveness of the measures listed above.
- Avoid providing alternatives.
- Leave the juice or puddings till after their main meal.
- When they are attempting, always praise the children, and they might be slow in reaching the target you have set for them while encouraging them.
- Have good table manners, and try to stick to it, kids are great imitators and tend to learn quickly from what they see the parents do.
- Make food less spicy and soft to chew.
- Make meal preparation short and quick; don’t allow your kids to be hungry; once they are hungry and agitated, it becomes difficult to feed them.
Mealtimes can be fun, depending on our effort. With busy schedules, we are always in a hurry if we can relax and think of ways to enjoy mealtime, our kids will love it. Getting children to eat is a gradual process, but it takes courage and discipline to achieve it. Have lots of patience; you will need it. Go with your child’s pace and never give up!