Mealtimes with little ones can be ever changing, especially if you have a fussy eater. One day they likes pasta, the next they only like it without sauce and then it's only spaghetti they like! Soooo, how do you make sure they get a good balanced diet without too much drama?! Here are 5 tips for calm and healthy mealtimes!
There are so many ways to hide veggies in your baby's meals to make sure even the fussiest eater won't find them! Some of our favourite ideas are to blend cauliflower into a cheese sauce, hide some mashed up carrots and sweetcorn under the cheese on homemade pizza or blend mixed veggies and passata into a pasta sauce . Finger foods like egg muffins, pancakes or pinwheels are also a great way to add in a little extra fruit, veg, milled seeds or chopped nuts.
2. Give then their Independence
Most babies and toddlers will go through a phase of wanting to feed themselves, sometimes sitting back and embracing the mess can be the best way to get them to try new foods. If your baby is just learning to feed themselves then finger foods that little hands can pick up easily are a great place to start. A suction bowl or plate will come in handy here as well as a long sleeved bib!
If you can try and act as a role model, eat at the same time as them and show them how yummy the food is as you eat it all up!
3. Give the Nutritional Value a Boost
With a few key cupboard essentials such as chia seeds, ground flaxseed and nutritional yeast you can add a great little health kick and these also work well for those with allergies or dietary preferences.
Nutritional yeast is packed full of vitamins and minerals, B12 in particular especially great for vegan or vegetarian families. The taste isn't offensive - quite cheesy - so it's perfect stirred through pasta sauces or in the sauce for a pizza.
Chia seeds and Ground Flaxseed (it should always be ground not whole for small babies and toddlers due to the seed shape) are packed with omega 3’s and can be mixed with water and used as egg replacement in many recipes.
4. Break from bribes.
Tempting as it may be, try not to bribe your little one with treats for eating certain foods. This can make the "prize" food even more exciting, and the food you want them to try an unpleasant chore. It also can lead to nightly battles at the dinner table. Just because a child refuses a food once, don't give up. Keep offering new foods and those your child didn't like before. It can take as many as 17 times tasting a food before a toddler’s taste buds accept a new food, refusing it the first time doesn't mean they don't like it.
5. Always keep calm and carry on
All babies and toddlers will have off days, trust them to eat if they are hungry and try not to force them into eating, simply try again next meal time. Offer your little one a variety of foods. Help your child explore new flavours and textures in food. Try adding different herbs and spices to simple meals to make them tastier. To minimise waste, offer new foods in small amounts and wait at least a week or two before reintroducing the same food.
Aim to keep mealtimes fun and relaxed - no huffing and puffing even if you begin to feel frustrated.