Here’s Rebecca’s top tips for helping little ones love their food –
1. Eat together, showing them how much your loving the meal. Don’t be too over the top, but lots of yummy noises and taking second helpings will show your little one that they may be missing out on a delicious treat.
2. Don’t put too much pressure on them to eat, try to refrain from asking them to eat a certain food as this may make them want to avoid it even more. Let them explore their plate without feeling like they have to do it.
3. Make mealtimes fun, put some music on which you both enjoy, and have a little jig in your seats. Talk about exciting topics which your child will like to converse with, take the focus off the eating and more onto making the environment somewhere they want to be. Show them you’re still eating and hopefully they will follow suit.
4. Smiling goes such a long way, if your little one sees you actively happy and enjoying the mealtime, this does wonders in encouraging your little one to enjoy the mealtime too.
5. Consistently and regularly offer new foods for your child to try, if this becomes a regular activity, it won’t seem so daunting for your child and they are more likely to be open to giving the food a try.
6. Serve liked foods alongside new or previously disliked foods. If there is something your child feels safe with on the plate, they are less likely to completely refuse the plate initially, and therefore more open to trying that other food item which they are still learning to love.
7. Try to avoid giving a second choice of food after the meal you have prepared is refused. By offering an alternative, you’re showing little one that this will happen if they say “no” to their food and they will receive an alternative which they like better. You may find that they will refuse their meals much quicker without being open to trying it, in the long term. If little one refuses the meal and doesn’t want to eat, this is okay, let them be in control of their own appetite, however when they ask for food later, if possible, try to re-offer that refused food again so that they understand that this is the meal on offer.
This works in most cases, but you are their parent of guardian and know best on a case by case basis. If little one is not feeling well, or not quite themselves, I always find it’s nice to relax the “rules” a little here. Especially babies and young children, their appetites completely change when they are teething or feeling poorly.
8. Take the pressure off. For your little one, but also yourself, don’t beat yourself up if your child hasn’t eaten their meal, if they are super hungry you would know about it.
You’re doing a great job, keep going 🙂