It’s easy for children to fall into the rut of only eating a few different foods, but starting a varied and balanced diet early on in life can contribute to a long term health.
7 do’s and don’ts
1. DO lead by example. You can’t expect kids to eat leafy greens if you just have chips yourself. See How to be a good food role model.
2. DON’T label your child a ‘fussy eater’. This will give them an excuse to hide behind at mealtimes, or make them more self-conscious.
3. DON’T offer pudding as a bribe as ‘the fun bit’. Instead, say dessert is for those who have eaten their main course because they are clearly hungry enough for it.
4. DO encourage your child to try foods with you – offer a mouthful of something that you think tastes really good, maybe off your plate when eating out. Little samples make trying new food more fun.
5. DO offer small, healthy snacks if needed during the day as these create a positive, energy-giving attitude to food, but not too close to mealtimes.
6. DON’T offer milk or juice until after your children have eaten. It’s fine to have these at mealtime, but serve water with the food so it doesn’t interfere with appetite.
7. DO ask your child to try at least two mouthfuls of something new or which they haven’t tried for a while. Serve it alongside something you know your child likes and praise them if they eat up. If they really don’t like it, take the food away without a fuss. But DON’T offer an alternative.
Don’t automatically ask for the kids’ menu in restaurants. Ask if main menu portions can be served smaller – this offers more exciting options and avoids reinforcing the idea that children should only eat ‘nursery food’.
Pass it on – cook with your kids
Being part of preparing the meal is a great incentive for a child to proudly partake of dinner when it’s served up. Try these Dinners the kids can cook.