Hudson was always such a good eater, once he was around 18 months he became more independent and mealtimes became quite a production. It was so frustrating picking him up from childcare seeing that he had eaten two lunches there, yet I couldn’t get him to eat one mouthful of food at home. I wondered what I was doing wrong, had I given birth to a mini food critic? Why were mealtimes becoming a struggle?
After testing some strategies, Hudson now happily eats ‘most’ meals (we all have our bad days right?). Here are some little tricks that have helped us:
○ Keep it small. Hudson eats pretty much what we eat. However, I discovered serving him up a small slab of lasagna or meat all chopped up wasn’t really getting his taste buds going. Now I make him a mini lasagna in his own little dish. For stirfrys or casseroles make sure chicken, meat and veggies are cut up small (think no bigger than a corn kernel). When I make pasta Hudson gets rissoni or a small pasta shells with his sauce. It’s easier for him to handle on the fork and doesn’t require a lot more effort from me.
○ Don’t make a fuss. The days of sit at the table until you’re finished are over. I quickly realised that a toddler is like a Kardashian sister. Any attention is good, even if its negative. Now when Hudson carries on about not liking something. I simply ask him to try it, if he still says ‘nooo yuk’ I say ‘ok don’t eat it’. I get him to sit at the table for a little bit longer, leave the food there and just carry on eating my dinner. 80% of the time when he realises he is not going to get me negotiating and pleading, he starts eating. When he does I praise him and make a big deal about being a big boy.
○ Sometimes they are just not hungry. Toddlers stop eating when they have had enough. On childcare days Hudson often eats a large lunch of pasta or rice. Plus morning and afternoon tea. I keep dinner light on these nights as he is simply not hungry. I offer yoghurt and fruit salad, toast or biscuits with cheese. If I have a large lunch, I don’t feel like a large dinner. Toddlers are the same.
○ Make it fun. Talk about food, grow veggies, go out for meals and use fun plates and cutlery. I have Disney plates, bright cups and little construction forks and spoons. When I make toast I cut it into soldier’s and I cut sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutters. I try to buy different coloured veggies (purple carrots are a hit). It really doesn’t take a lot of extra effort but it certainly makes food fun and interesting.
○ Soup. I saw that Hudson often would eat soup for lunch at childcare. This sounded messy and like an awful experience to me. I eventually decided to try it at home and he loves it. It’s not messy (we do use a bib) he will eat a whole bowl and it’s really a great way to get veggies into little bellies. I serve it with toast soldiers.
○ Noodles – Hudson loves 2 minute noodles, well he actually loves any noodles. I have found I can make an easy meal just by adding some omlette, ham, cheese, corn and sliced up beans to cooked noodles. Instant hit and so so easy after work.
With these few easy tricks up my sleeve, mealtimes at my house are now much easier and food is eaten rather than thrown in the compost.