Our friend Luka McCabe has shared with us her tips on introducing little one to solids, but as little one grows, becoming more assertive and aware of their mealtimes, a new world of tricky can arrive. The lovely Anna Hewitt, mother to three, shares with us her top tips to help along happy mealtimes with the family.
TIPS FOR HAPPY MEALTIMES
by Anna Hewitt
One of life’s greatest pleasures is a good meal shared with friends and family. So why does the family table so often turn into a battleground? Here are a few tips to get everyone in the family sitting up and ready to enjoy their dinner together.
- Above all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Some meals are always going to be a disaster no matter what you serve your children.
- Make sure everyone is coming to the table hungry- if your children have been snacking all day they are less likely to eat their meal.
- Try and eat the same thing all together as a family. Although this can be difficult in our fast paced lives, it can become such a special part of your daily ritual. Put your children in charge of setting the table nicely- younger ones can put around napkins, older ones can fill water glasses or write menus. Light a candle or collect flowers to put in the middle of the table to show it is a special time for the family to come together at the end of the day.
- Try starting the meal with a salad or vegetables. This can be accompanied by a dressing or dip they can dunk their food into. It is amazing what will be eaten when you’re really hungry and there is nothing else to choose!
- You don’t need to enforce old school rules of finishing everything on your plate. Encourage your children to try everything, but they don’t have to finish anything. You don’t want meal times to become a battle of who is most stubborn in the family! Trying a little of everything will help them get used to new foods. To start with you might get a nibble, but over time they will learn to like most things. For some children textures are what puts them off, for others it is flavour. If they don’t like boiled carrots, try them grated in a salad, roasted with seeds, or cut into sticks for dunking in hummus.
- Just as some children are more adventurous playing, some are more adventurous with eating. Make sure there is something on their plate that they know and like so a hesitant eater isn’t too overwhelmed with a plate full of unknown food.
- Try not to label food as good or bad. Just talk about enjoying food and how it makes you feel. These green fritters make us so strong, we will be able to play at the playground for ages! Eating ice cream for every meal would give us a sore tummy, but how delicious does an ice cream cone at the beach on a sunny day taste?
- Never assume what your children may like or not like. One of mine loves nothing more than a pickle but won’t go near a cream filled donut!
- For dessert, chia pudding or greek yoghurt with some honey or fruit is a great way to fill up any gaps and keep everyone sleeping through the night.
What a gift to give your children. A love of good food shared with those they love.
Thank you so much for putting together this guide of wonderful tips for us Anna! We hope these tips come in handy for future yummy meal times. xx Nb