Mealtimes can be a very stressful time, especially with a fussy or picky eater. It is important to have a daily routine that involves eating with your children as a family and limiting snacks throughout the day. Only offer one meal to your child, don't fall into the trap of cooking separate meals for fussy eaters! By doing this, your child will learn to understand that they have to eat what everybody else is eating.
Here are 10 tips that we at Mummy Cooks think are the most important for eating happy with your child.
Eat together as a family as much as possible
If you are to get anywhere with feeding your children, it is vital that you show them food is indeed safe and you are eating it yourself. Never offer alternatives.
Have a set time for your meals and try to stick to it
This is especially important for younger children so they don’t become too hungry! Remember, when blood sugars are low your child will only cry for a sugary snack. There will be times where this is not possible, so try to offer a healthy snack such as an apple or some Homemade Oatcakes to avoid your child filling up on sugary foods. They are perfect to batch cook and freeze as they defrost within minutes. Stack and store in an Adult Portion Pot from the Family Portion Set for a quick and healthy snack on hectic evenings.
Limit the amount of snacks your child has throughout the day. There should be a 3 hour gap between snacks and your child’s dinner or lunch. So if you have dinner at 6pm then a snack should be given at 3pm. Try to offer healthy or homemade alternatives to shop bought items. These Banana and Berry Muffins are a hit in my house!
Finish your own meal before helping your child
It is important that you enjoy your meal and don’t get frustrated. Ask your child to try and feed themselves while you finish your meal. They may even forget they asked and finish it off themselves!
Look at fluid intake
Look at the amount of fluid your child is taking, especially before meal times as filling up on fluids may reduce their appetite for their dinner. Limit their daily intake of milk to 600ml and aim for 6-8 small glasses (120ml-150ml) of water a day.
Try not to react when your child refuses to eat their meal. Avoid offering another option and keep them seated at the table until the meal time is over.
Only allow 20 minutes per meal
If your child has not managed to eat it in this time remove the plate and let them know the meal is over.
Let your child play with food
Allow your child to interact and play with their food and try to encourage self-feeding. By encouraging exploring food and textures during meal times, it will be more enjoyable for your child.
Turn off distractions
Make sure to switch off any distractions such as a television during the meal. Don't allow distractions such as phones or tablets at the table either!
Offer different meals each night
Challenging your child to try different foods can order to break down the fear associated with food. This can really help when trying to avoid a fussy eater. Batch cook and store a variety of meals in Double Child Portion Pots to use any night of the week. This will make switching up meal times easier, especially on busy nights!