Do you have a picky eater on your hands? Is it tough to get your child to eat their vegetables? As parents, we can sometimes feel like we’re failing if our children aren’t eating things that we know are good for them. They may throw the food they don’t like on the floor or refuse to eat it all together. As parents we pick our battles, so we may just throw in the towel and say “well at least they’re eating something”. The truth is, however, that if our children aren’t getting the nutrients that they need through their diet, other areas of their lives may suffer as a result. Their behaviour, sleep and school performance may all be affected as a result. The good news is that we can make mealtime more stimulating for our children and they may be more likely to cooperate with us. Although it requires a bit more effort, it will all be worth it when you see the smile it brings to your little one’s face.
Foods that are not nutritious are usually lacking in colour (think bread, cookies, crackers), unless they contain food colouring or dye, and that’s a whole other recipe for disaster for our littles! Try creating a plate of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours. This will not only stimulate your child’s brain but also, hopefully, their appetite!
Shapes are a fun way to make mealtime more exciting. Maybe your child has been learning about different shapes at school, so you turn his sandwich into little triangles or stars. Maybe your daughter is having a down day, so you arrange her meal in a smiley face on her plate. You can turn their food into the shape of their favourite animal, or maybe you place their veggies into a heart shape. You can even use a cookie cutter to make a shape if you’re short on time. If your child is old enough you can engage them by asking what shapes they want to see that day!
Numbers & Letters
Turn your child’s blueberries into a mini math equation, personalize their meal by spelling their name with carrot sticks. Write an “I love you” message in their favourite condiment. Help your child learn to tell time by using a tortilla shell as the face of a clock and veggies for numbers.
How else can I engage my child in mealtime?
- Focus on their interests
- Give them choices
- Turn it into a game (example: tic tac toe)
- Talk about feelings ( think happy, sad, angry, shocked faces)
- Give the meal a funny, crazy, fancy name! Instead of pasta think, “noodle badoodles!”
- Use a different dish, anything other than a plate (think muffin tin or an ice cube tray!)
- Get them involved, they may be more likely to eat the food if they help in some way
- Try a theme. If you know your child has been learning about something at day care of school, incorporate it into your meal times as well.
- Or of course you can always create your own!
Making eating fun and appealing is not only a great way to stimulate your child’s mind and appetite, but it will show your little ones that you care and put a smile on their face. Happy meal time!
Jenna Standish is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Reiki level one practitioner and RMT student. She gets excited about all things nutrition, fitness and personal development but her biggest passion of all is being a Mom to her sweet baby girl, Lennon. Since becoming a mother in 2017, Jenna’s dream has changed to guide and empower women to become the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. She loves to motivate women to take control of their body, mind and spirit health so that they can show up as their best selves every day, especially for their families. Follow her on Instagram to receive tips, tricks, free recipes, health and wellness advice.
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