Every child is different, and everyone's mealtimes are far from perfect – it’s always total carnage and getting through dinner without one of them crying, is a rare victory!
Their tastes, personalities and state of mind are ever changing. But, if you stick at it and use some of these strategies, it will get easier in the end.
After 12 months old, milk does not necessarily need to be the main ingredient in their diet. In fact, sometimes milk can really hinder the development of their ‘solid food’ diet. Solid food should now make up for the majority of their diet. Often, fussy eaters can often be big milk drinkers.
Food routines are important, get a bit of an daily action plan around food and stick with it. Little ones that constantly pick at snacks all morning are definitely not going to be hungry at lunchtime. Try and limit food 2hrs before the next main meal.
Take the pressure off yourself, unless your child is severely underweight or ill, if they miss lunch, don’t worry, they will eventually eat. The more pressure you put on them around eating, the more likely they will rebel.
If your little human is convincingly telling you they have had enough, try not to pressure on your child to eat everything on their plate. We are the generation of wellness change and we have to teach our children to listen to their body and stop when they are full. Of course, if they are then asking for dessert 5 minutes later they had you hook, line and sinker and you therefore need to put their dinner back in front of them. The rules are: No dessert unless dinner is finished.
Get them in the kitchen! Let them be involved in food preparation and get them excited about food and what it has to offer them nutritionally, but also socially. Food is an amazing way to connect with others. It is fun and exciting but also of course super tasty. Teach them this and create a positive relationship with food. Food is not just to sustain and satisfy nutritionally.
You can never start too young with food education. As your children get a little older it is a great time to begin educating them about better food choices, health and wellbeing. That their body will get ‘sad’ and won’t work very well if you give it too much sugar or healthy foods. However, it is important to find a balance as you may end up with a child who over indulges when the opportunity arises (i.e. parties). Try not to completely take these experiences away, but find a balance between treats and healthy eating.
It is okay to sometimes be a little sneaky with veggies and try and hide or disguise them in their food. Adding finely chopped onions or broccoli into pasta or risottos works well. Try not to get in the habit of doing this a lot, a better option is to teach them about food and get them excited about it.
Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint... It will take time but help create an amazing relationship between your little human and food. Positivity, education and getting them excited about meal times are the best ways to do this.