Did you know that according to the latest research, almost a third (30%) of British parents say they have to serve their children different meals every day. A massive 84% say they do this each week. But leading weaning and nutrition expert, Charlotte Stirling-Reed says it is NOT necessary, “families should be sharing the same family meals. After your little one has explored their first tastes of food – whether that be finger food/mashed food, they can start having adapted versions of adult foods straight away. It is so important to combine meals and allow your babies and young children to see you eating similar dishes. This will help them to be involved in the mealtime, to learn what foods you eat as a family, and, usually, more readily accept them too.
Here are Charlotte Stirling-Reed’s top eight tips to take the chore out of meal times for parents going through weaning.
- Make it fun!
The more everyone enjoys it, the more likely they will be to eat up all the delicious food on offer
- Bring baby on board
Even before they are having solid foods, to start getting them used to the idea of “mealtimes” and to allow them to learn about food and eating from watching those around them. I recommend the Tripp Trapp high chair as it fits nice and close to the table like a normal chair.
- Dinnertime is family time
If you don’t eat together often, try to make a big deal of it when you do. Distractions away, music on, kick off dinner with a game – any way to make it a little special.
- Include kids in dinner parties
Involve them in mealtimes with other friends and family early on. Showing them that food is a social and enjoyable part of life can really help encourage a love for food
- Change the environment
If you’re finding mealtimes a struggle, or if they are becoming negative with a baby, put on some relaxing music, change the position of the highchair around the table and maybe bring out a new table cloth. This can help remove the negative association your little one may have built up about mealtimes and the dinner table.
- Stay calm and carry on
This can make a big difference to how your little one experiences their meals. It’s easier said than done, but sometimes you just need to get yourself in the right frame of mind in order for it to work for others too.
- Let them explore food
It may be messy, but it’s all part of their learning and exploring. Additionally, the more familiar they are with food, the more likely they are to accept it.
- Remember to feed yourself.
In times of food refusal, focus on YOU more than them. It’s all too easy to concentrate on encouraging little ones to eat, when in fact, sometimes taking the pressure off, sitting back and eating ourselves can be the best way forward.