Do you dread meal times?
Do you ever feel as if you are a broken record on repeat with the “Eat your dinner, eat your dinner...” Followed by a chorus of, “Come on finish your veggies at least!”
Then you hear the words you promised yourself you wouldn’t say, “Okay just your meat then, no, not just the tomato sauce!” followed quickly by “No more drink until you have finished your dinner! Right, that’s it! No dessert for you!”
Only to be met with more struggle, until you sputter out those words…
“You’re going to go to bed hungry then, tough!”
Every meal time I feel as if I’m having an internal meltdown! I have thoughts like, why won’t my kid eat? Followed by the guilt inducing thought: they’ll end up going to bed hungry!
This thought is usually followed by bargaining. The dozen alternatives I offer up to do everything to ensure my children go off to sleep with full tummies to avoid the risk of them waking in the middle of the night hungry if they don’t eat! (But that’s a blog for another day!)
In our hectic lives time together and especially sharing meals is incredibly important for many families. In an ideal world we would like to come together as a family and talk about our days, share stories and just enjoy each other’s company. In reality? We may feel like we’re turning into a frustrated witch, that broken record until the last thought we have is, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! WHY CAN’T YOU JUST EAT KID?
We know what it is like to spend hours preparing a healthy and nutritious meal for your family- made with love, to then have it sometimes quite literally, shoved in your face.
Is there a solution? Our Mikki&Me community have put their heads together and shared some of their top tips for combating fussy eating tots! Read on for more:
Take Baby Steps
When making dinner, add 2 or 3 things you know your kids love mixing them with the things you want them to eat. Praise them just for having a bit of the new stuff.
We have had so much positive feedback from customers (and with our own family) with our Dinner Winner Plates using this method. For example if you know your kids love cucumber and cheese you can add these to the meal along with the stuff you’d like them to eat such as a hard-boiled egg and some chicken strips. If you’d like, you can include a reward in if they have finished their dinner. I like to add a few of ‘nature’s lollies’ like dried fruit or even a handful of grapes to the mix!
You can see a great example of this below:
Another great tip from our community is to introduce new flavors slowly. It can be tempting to just throw everything you wish your child would eat on a plate, but if you know your child loves cheese and cucumber, a slow expansion of this might be using cream cheese on rye bread instead of cheddar cheese. And cucumber? Why not swap the cucumber for crunchy green capsicum.
The 3 P’s – PRAISE, POSITIVITY, PERSISTENCE
Praise your child for what they have eaten, and what they did try!
Bringing positive praise to the dinnertime will help to reinforce that dinner time is calm and enjoyable. Don’t focus on the negatives and remember to focus on the POSITIVES; what they HAVE eaten and what they DID try! This is soooo important!
This is not a one week easy fix, making meals enjoyable again is an ongoing process of adding things they love with things to try.
Making food fun
At Mikki&Me we love making mealtimes enjoyable and fun. We have heaps of fun food ideas we share regularly on our Facebook page. You can also check out our Feeding Time selection for Practical, Affordable and Adorable meal time essentials.
Need some more inspiration? We also found some great and imaginative ways to prepare fun meals for kids here.
Get your kids involved
• Involve your kids in food preparation. Let them top and tale beans, dress the salad and stir the sauce.
• You could get them to set the table with place mats and cups (leaving the handling of any sharp knives to the adults), and make meal times feel special. Make them feel special by letting them know how great the table looks before sitting down and eating.
• When kids feel involved they are more inclined to try the food they have helped prepare.
One other thing that’s worked in our household is we always have the same meal. I never make separate meals for the kids (unless they are babies requiring mashed foods). They need to eat what everyone else is eating. This will save you time and get them used to eating what they are given. You may need to simplify things for a few months and not offer fancy shmancy meals. Platters with separated foods work really well. Like an antipasto platter with wraps to make your own.
We hope this article has given you some tips for fussy eaters of your own.
Remember you are doing a great job. Persistence is key and most of all, trust and know fussy eating is just a phase that won’t last forever (WE HOPE!) If you have any you’d like to add, let us know in the comments below!
Liza & the Mikki & Me Team xx