No More Tantrums At Meal Time!
It’s no secret that kids like to watch their parents struggle trying to feed them. Not just the healthy stuff, but regular old sandwiches seem to be a challenge as well. Many experts believe that if you do not force a child to eat, they will come round on their own and ask for food. But that might just take a few days. Experts also say that we should keep offering our kids ‘new’ foods so they become adventurous eaters and for your kid’s health. Bottom line: it seems experts speak from theory, not practice. We’re giving you a few tips to make meal-time a lesser struggle and maybe a little more fun.
Stick to what you know
A lot of adventurous, foodie mothers find it extremely frustrating that their child will not try anything new even if it’s hands-down delicious. One thing you must understand is that the more you force your child, the more they will push the food away and perhaps develop an aversion to it. This doesn’t mean that you stop trying all together. Stick to what you know they will eat for the main meal-times and experiment with new foods for snack time or even play dates, peers are more likely to influence your child’s eating habits than you.
Play with presentation
This doesn’t have to include elaborate planning and creativity. Just something different enough to appeal to their curiosity and love for color. Skewer some different colored fruits together for fruit kababs and maybe even add some cubes of cheese to separate them. A cookie cutter is a mom’s best friend. Sandwiches are converted to twinkling stars and gingerbread men in an instant; veggie nuggets are now smiling faces or the solar system (use different colored dips/vegetables for the different planets).
Involve your child with prep
Take them to the grocery store with you. Yes, it is easier said than managed. BUT imagine all the exposure they’ll get browsing the aisles with you. A little bit of freedom for kids goes a long away, tell them they need to pick three new items to eat and one treat for after dinner time. You never know, they could surprise you. It doesn’t stop there though, involve them with the cooking too! Simple things like measuring and pouring, stirring, punching the dough of the aata and tasting your creations along the way. Ask them to choose their plate, spoon and glass and lay it on the table. Make them wear a chef’s hat and keep asking them what to do next!
Make it an experience
This isn’t for everyday dining under any circumstance, especially considering table manners and dinner etiquette take precedence over pretend play. Keep the experiences limited to weekends or on days where you’re both out of ideas. Host a dinner party with your child and invite their favorite toys, pretend you are hosting a cooking show, set up a tent and huddle up inside, have dinner outdoors in your garden or terrace with electronic candles or fairy lights, take inspiration for the menu using your child’s latest interest; for example: interest in history can be used to make dinner from the particular era or interest in the galaxy can be used by playing around with the names of dishes (gajar ka halwa can be mounded and called Mars; spinach can be Earth; a round roti with potatoes can be arranged to look like the moon).
Dip It, Blend It, Roll It
The trick here is taking a deep breath and lowering your expectations. You want your kid to try new things, sure, but offer it with a bit of style. Hummus? Make a smiling face on it with olives and serve it alongside your child’s favorite veggie or breadsticks. That way they have the option of dipping (we love choices!) and even if they only have the cucumber/carrot sticks, it’s alright. It takes time to become comfortable with something new. Spinach plus apples plus kiwi plus bananas equals Monster Juice! If your child in being unusually fussy, blend together a few healthy options and offer up a smoothie instead of forcing a full meal on them. Rolling is our favorite! Parathas for the win! You can stuff a paratha/tortilla/pita with virtually anything. Start small, maybe a few slices of cheese; and add on later, you’ll have graduated to rolling in cauliflower bits and aloo bhujia (potato curry) in no time!