Dinnertime with your little one can be a production to say the least, especially when you throw picky eating into the mix. Here are my top seven tips to avoid a dinnertime disaster.
- Befriend applesauce
This is by far my best tip for new parents. My daughter started out eating everything until I introduced apple sauce. Why eat kale when there’s applesauce? So instead of serving plain ol’ broccoli or kale, I now add in a little applesauce or blend in a couple of orange slices to sweeten the deal.
- Avoid eye contact
I used to make a big production about bringing food to the high chair. I would pick up the spoon and pretend to eat the food myself, or try the historical choo-choo train simulation. Finally I found that by just putting the food down and avoiding a big production, the more likely my daughter was to just dig in.
- Presentation, presentation, presentation
Like you always hear on the food network shows, people eat with their eyes first and kids are no exception. Dumping too much on the tray or not putting food in their favourite bowl can completely turn them off of trying new food. I find that sometimes shedding cheese instead of cubing it or serving cucumber Julienne style rather than slicing is effective. Crazy, I know.
- Hand over the control
Once my daughter turned one, spoon feeding was beneath her. She would refuse everything I gave her. Frustrated one day, I left the bowl and spoon on her tray and told her to feed herself, to which she did.
- Offering a bite
Whenever I am snacking, which is quite often these days being almost seven months pregnant, I catch my daughter curiously watching me. I make it a point to always offer her what I am eating, which she almost always refuses, but the odd time will try. If mommy likes it, maybe I will too.
I find that my daughter is only in the mood to eat certain things at certain times. Perhaps she had blueberries two hours ago at daycare and here I am trying to feed it to her again. No wonder she’s not eating them. I find if I try again in a few days she gobbles them down. Sometimes it takes several attempts with a new food before she tries it.
- Avoid a sideshow
This is bound to happen. It’s dinner time, you just put your little one in their high chair and here comes aunty or uncle with their iphones out, ready to snap cute photos of your baby missing their mouth or dumping pea puree on their head. This falls under my #2 tip of avoiding eye contact. You just threw down some disgusting broccoli; you don’t want to draw attention to it. Distractions like loving family members and the TV can hinder your attempt to have them try something new. Plus, if your relatives are there, your baby now has an audience to watch him or her dump or fling their peas in disgust.