You’ve been through every single cooking book you own, picked a delicious meal and after all that time you spent making it your little one refuses to eat. Sounds familiar?
It is one of many mums‘ worries. Will my baby be a good eater? Will he eat anything that I put on his plate? Is there such a thing as a “good start” in weaning that will help my baby love good food in the future? How will I get my toddler interested in vegetables and healthy food?
Although to many people weaning is all about having fun, many mums out there will disagree as it can be a challenge, especially in the beginning and when children can become picky with their food.
Fortunately, there are some simple, but efficient tips that can help mums and their little ones make weaning and meal times a pleasant and exciting experience.
1. Make mealtime a calm and relaxing time
[quote_box_right]TIP: If it helps, bring his favorite toy along with you at the table, this way he will feel more comfortable; he is more likely to spend more time at the table with it than without it. [/quote_box_right]A recent study by the University of California showed that stress can be contagious and a baby can be influenced by his mother when she feels that way. So if you find yourself feeling stressed just when you are about to start the weaning process, take a moment to try and relax because your baby will probably feel the same. And meal times should be anything but a stressful activity for both mum and baby.
An efficient way to relax with your baby before lunch time is to go with him through a book with pictures of food, this will especially help him when he will come across new kinds of food or textures and will make it easier for him to accept it.
Try to sit at the table with him and have your lunch together. By watching you enjoying the same food he is having he will feel excited and encouraged to try new tastes.
Make the process of cooking a fun activity, where you explain to him what ingredients you are using and where they come from. Also check out the benefits of cooking with your child.
2. Be creative and flexible
Toddlers, or even babies, can be fussy just because they don’t like the look or smell of some foods.To make things more appealing to them try to give food shapes and include interesting colors on the plate. Some toddlers like their food sliced and some don’t.
If you are having issues with a specific food, you can always camouflage it to include it in his meal; for example you can add boiled carrots in mash potatoes which will add some nice orange color and may make things easier for you.
Sometimes it’s all about experimenting and discovering what your toddler prefers.
And remember that using tableware with cartoons and funny animals is always a bonus.
3. Get your toddler involved
If you are struggling to get your toddler interested in food, let him pick what he is going to have for his lunch. Give him the chance to pick one vegetable, one kind of meat and one piece of fruit so that he is in charge of his meal. You can even involve him in preparing the meal in the kitchen. It is very likely that he will enjoy eating a meal that he helped make.
4. Be patient
If he seems uninterested in a meal, don’t force him to eat it. It is more likely that he will remember this reaction and the next time he will come across this meal his response will be similar. Let him have something else instead, or try at a later time. Don’t forget that children are like us, sometimes they just might not be that hungry.
While being patient, try new methods, different textures in food and go through different ways of cooking even the same meal; eventually he will get interested and you will be surprised to discover that sometimes it was just a small detail that kept him from loving a certain food.
Don’t forget that children have their own personality and it is normal to prefer one food over another and as long as their diet is balanced and healthy then this should not be a problem.
5. Be realistic
If you find yourself stressing at any time while weaning or feeding your toddler, speak to your doctor and look at your little one’s development. If he is gaining enough weight, looks healthy and your doctor is happy then your struggles during meal time shouldn’t worry you. Children and especially babies are monitored often so a loss in weight should be noticed right away and your doctor will give you the appropriate advice on how to get things back on track.
When it comes to feeding your baby It is important to give time to yourself and your baby, weaning can take a long time and it can be stressful so make sure you don’t rush things. Don’t forget to have fun whether that is by looking for new ways to tickle tiny taste buds or by sitting at the table with your little one and enjoying a lovely meal together.