No!! Yuk!! Bleurghh!! Three of your toddler’s favourite words and the cornerstone of most mealtime conversations. We all know that toddlers aren’t easy, but let’s face it, dinnertime can turn into a war zone, when the healthy, nutritionally balanced meal that you’ve lovingly created is met with a look of disgust, refusal and quite possibly a tantrum! Yet we know that healthy food habits start to develop during the toddler years, making it a key time to influence what your little one is eating. So how can you encourage your little one to eat healthily? We have some great ways to get you started, which don’t actually involve eating!!
1. No eating!
Your toddler doesn’t have to actually eat to encourage a wider interest in food. Get them to smell, kiss, lick or crunch. You can show your child how to smell strawberries and lick one to feel the bumpiness of the seeds. They can be contrary little monkeys, by telling them not to eat something, we’re betting they probably will!!
2. Feel it
Give lots of opportunities to touch and handle fresh fruit and vegetables – out shopping, at home cooking or even growing food. It will help them be more relaxed and interested in food.
3. Get messy!
Messy is good – let your little one squash a tomato or squeeze an orange while you are cooking. If they feel comfortable handling a food they are more likely to want to eat it.
4. Try different textures
Let your child explore different textures of food by juicing, blending, grating or mashing foods with your help.
5. Keep them raw!
Explore vegetables raw as well as cooked, it’s a great way to overcome a dislike of a vegetable – small crunchy florets of cauliflower for dipping are delicious, and taste very different to cooked cauliflower!