We know mealtimes can be stressful. The mess, your kids not wanting to eat, the atmosphere could get tense. But does it have to be?
In this article, we would like to share some tips and tricks in making mealtimes more fun and enjoyable – for you and your little one!
Get Creative with Food
In a study by Cornell University, children prefer food with more colours. Children aren’t “little adults”, so our preferences might differ with theirs. While adults prefer plates with only 3 items or 3 colours, children are most attracted to plates with six to seven different items or colours. We have to keep in mind to plate the food in a way that is appealing to them, not us as adults. In the same study, it is also revealed that children prefer their food presented in figurative designs such as placing bacon in the shape of a smile or arranging beans in the shape of a heart.
Knowing how much presentation matters to children, we could definitely make mealtimes more fun by getting creative. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few ways to make a fun plate for your little ones :
Use food Colouring
We can use natural food colouring to make pink mashed potatoes or green pasta. You can also add a splash of colours by adding other food such as mixing blueberries in oatmeal or yoghurt.
Make Fun Shapes
Make use of various cookie cutters, moulds or cups to create fun shapes. As children loves figurative designs in their plates, we can make their food more appealing with various shapes such as dinosaur pancakes, bear shaped bread, etc. You can also arrange the food into faces such as a toast with bacon as the mouth and beans as the eyes. They’ll surely love them!
Call it a Different Name
After making a fun shape or adding colours to the food, you might want to take it up a notch and introduce it to them with fun names. The food doesn’t have to be called green pasta, it could be a fairy meal or space dinosaur. You could tailor the names to the topics your child is interested in and pique their interest.
According to a research by Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Offering vegetables with reduced-fat dips containing familiar herb and spice flavors can increase tasting and thereby promote liking, acceptance, and consumption of vegetables, including vegetables previously rejected or disliked.” If your little one is hesitant to try something new, you could offer to dip it into soup or sauce.
Make it Fun
Other than food, the atmosphere and environment is also important. Dr. Organic Mommy said that “Your excitement also influences the child’s perspective on their food”. You can call the food a different name and make a story about it.
Children love options. You could create a little menu with some food that you’ve planned to make and let them choose. Use this opportunity to practise how to spell the food they are eating.
Get them involved by getting them to prepare the meal with you. It is important to let toddlers feel a sense of independence. You can give small tasks such as mixing ingredients or cut veggies with kid-friendly knives. Of course, always within supervision.
You can also let them arrange the food in the way they like or create crafts for table decoration. With a sense of ownership over their meal, toddlers are more likely to sit and enjoy their meals.
Another tip! Give them an audience.
Let them bring out their favourite car toys or stuffed animals and arrange their toys to watch them eat. Level up the excitement with a song or a dance to start your mealtime.
Embrace and Enjoy!
Last but not least, embrace and enjoy your mealtimes. From Parents.com, Paediatric dietitian Natalia Stasenko, R.D. says that a child's pickiness may actually be a response to a tense mealtime situation.
She added that “Anxiety and stress are appetite suppressants for your child”. So it is important to maintain a calm and happy environment during mealtimes, starting from the parents. Just like how your excitement could influence them, your stress as well.
What do you think of these tips to make mealtime fun? Do you have any tips on making mealtimes less stressful and more fun? We’d love to hear yours, drop them in the comment below or send us a message!
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Disclaimer : The statements on this blog are provided for educational purposes only. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always seek advice from a qualified health care provider for any question or medical advice.