Your toddler may want to eat that snail in the garden (and maybe did), but won’t try a sliver of inoffensive cucumber. Or you’ve prepared a meal which ticks all the boxes – healthy, nutritious, appealing to look at, and tasty – only for it to be rejected by the hardest-to-please customer on earth – your child. It’s a frustrating yet completely normal phase of childhood. We’re not promising that Brussels sprouts will ever feature in the top 100 of your child’s favourite foods, but here are some ideas that might help at mealtimes.
1. Involve your child. Making sausage rolls? Your child can help with the ingredients, or putting the mix on the pastry. (Messy yet fun) Better yet, here's a recipe full of veggies from Baked for Happy Kids (you may need to hide the veggies going in if said child is by your side). Tip: for really fussy eaters, puree all of your veggies and put in ice cube trays or bags in the freezer - take out small amounts and include in whatever foods your child will eat. Some little people balk at the slightest bit of orange, green or red! Carrot, Cauliflower, zucchini are all quite mild flavours and easy to 'lace' into various foods.
2. ‘Too full’ for vegetables but endless room for cookies? Just remember your child is trying to establish independence. This is a good thing, though it doesn’t feel like it right now! Find a balance of wins for you and your child - pick your battles.
3. Keep offering the new/unfamiliar food. You might need to offer it at least seven times before Junior deigns to try it. Having your child see you eat and enjoy the particular food is a good example to set. We adopt an 'eat what you like, leave what you don't' philosophy at the table which encourages them to at least be tolerant of what's on the plate - baby steps right?
4. Try not to bribe/coax with promises of gifts or extra time in the playground (guilty as charged, but it’s not a long term solution).
5. Keep it relaxed. Stress won’t help. Hide what you can and it keeps you secretly happy that you've mastered the sly motherly skills they'll never catch on to. Surely somewhere out there are world-class chefs who wouldn’t eat their broccoli when they were toddlers. Let’s face it – we probably all were fussy eaters at some point. As long as your child is healthy and happy, it’s no big deal that you have to cut crusts off sandwiches, or that tomatoes are rejected because the seeds look ‘yucky’.
By the way, if your little one has already eaten garden ‘escargot’, well, they’re on their way to culinary experimentation!