In every gathering of parents one topic tends to come up again and again. Fussy eating. It’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get most of our toddlers to try a new food! But as all parents know, feeding children a wide range of foods is essential. If they are to grow up as adventurous eaters with healthy habits. So finding the balance between picky eating and exposure to new foods is vital. Here are our top tips. Some great recipes and a roundup of the best toddler menus around the UK.
Feed when (not) hungry
It may sound silly, but waiting until your toddler is ravenous is likely to produce tantrums and tears. Ask your nanny to keep a food diary charting when your little one is fed. You’ll often find that mealtimes are a little too far apart. Offering a simple snack like a watermelon cube can stave off the hunger pangs for long enough to get your child to the table in a more receptive frame of mind.
Finger food is fine but remember the parent factor
Kids love to be tactile, but parents can often overreact. Wiping the hands between every bite and casting worried eyes over the soft furnishings. If you’re really troubled by slimy bananas and gooey fistfuls of blueberry. Set aside a wipe down corner where your little one eats and if necessary leave the room and let your nanny get on with it! There’s nothing that creates anxiety in a child so much as feeling that an adult is uptight at their behaviour and this can lead to eating anxiety very fast.
Favourite toddler recipes
For protein that can easily be handled.
- Beat 4 eggs with a little water, milk or breast milk.
- Microwave grated carrot, courgette, peas or beetroot (which makes them lovely and pink) for two minutes with a little water to par-boil.
- Add to egg mixture, pour into oiled mini-muffin tins and bake at 200C for 15 minutes.
Combine any good natural nut or seed butter with an equal volume of food processed dates and add around the same amount of steel cut oats. Mix well and roll into toddler hand sized balls. Chill for ten minutes to allow them to firm up or freeze and remove one or two from the freezer as required, allowing them to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.
Where to eat with small children – UK wide
Wahaca is generally reckoned to offer child friendly menus and an atmosphere that is both welcoming to kids and pleasant for adults.
Giraffe have a voucher that allows a child to eat free with every adult main meal purchased. This can be a boon for cash-strapped families. Their children’s menu is also varied, fresh and healthy.
Strada is noted for offering a child’s salad (basically finger food vegetables and a dip) with every child’s meal, which can be a great way to keep a toddler happy at the table.