22 mar 2015 nourish 682x408

NOURISH

Making mealtime parent and kid-friendly

After a busy day, dinnertime can feel daunting, especially with little ones involved. We're here to give you a few tips to help make mealtime manageable. 

Routines:

Children eat for energy and growth, so mealtime nutrition is so important. As are setting up a routine and sharing meals together. Toddlers thrive on knowing what to expect, so sitting down for dinner at the same time each evening is helpful in avoiding tantrums and tears.

Picky-eaters:

Parents often worry that their child won't touch a thing on his or her plate. Start with small portions to avoid overwhelming him or her.  Also, don't resort to making your little one something separate than what everyone else is eating.  Avoid giving sweets or unhealthy snacks as an alternative or reward if they are not eating their meal—they will continue to demand this.  Just keep providing healthy choices and when they are hungry, they will eat.  If you're anxious about dinnertime then your child will likely become upset too, so take a deep breath and show them how to enjoy eating! 

Fruits and veggies can be added to so many dishes and do not have to call too much attention to themselves. Chopped green peppers, broccoli and zucchini can be added to a pasta sauce, casserole or scrambled eggs.  You can even puree them if necessary.  Toss sliced fruit into yogurt, apple sauce or cereal.  Smoothies are another fun way to get fruits and veggies.

New foods:

When introducing a new food, make sure there are also a few of his or her favorites alongside it.  Although bribe tactics—"Eat a little of this and then you can have some of this!"—can be our first instinct, chat with your little one about the shape, size or color of this new item instead of creating a food hierarchy.

If a little goes in, and some comes back out, that is still progress! Don't give up on broccoli because the first time didn't go perfectly.  Also, their tastes frequently change over time, so keeping trying.  Children love to dip, so maybe add a bit of yogurt, peanut butter, or marinara on the side for that broccoli stalk to take a bath in.

Also, bring out the cookie cutters and melon ballers! A reindeer-shaped piece of toast or balls of cantaloupe, cheese or sweet potato can make it that much more fun to eat.  Let the kids help with grocery shopping and/or gardening, and with preparing the meals.  Allow them to be involved and use their creativity.  They will have more excitement and be more invested in what they are eating.

Be a great eater yourself:

Our children are sponges, soaking up all that we do, so setting a good mealtime example is very important. If he or she sees you swirling spaghetti on your fork, or munching happily on fruits and veggies, then odds are that he or she is going to want to try as well.

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