When I was heavily pregnant with Miss O, hastily Googling everything I’d neglected to read up on over the past few months (like cramming for an exam you have absolutely no hope of passing) it genuinely never occurred to me that mealtimes might be one of the big issues. I think I just presumed that I would make something, my tiny human would eat it, and we’d all move on with our lives.
What a complete eejit.
So, if you too are enthusiastically cheerleading from the highchair sidelines every evening, willing your child to eat just ONE MORE SPOONFUL of something that hasn’t been dipped in E Numbers and fried in sugar, here are my top tips.
1 – It’s a scientifically proven fact that the longer you spend lovingly crafting veggie-packed, toddler-friendly culinary delights, the sooner you’ll be scraping it all into the bin whilst your toddler dry-heaves dramatically in the next room, incensed that you presented them with such slop. Please note; it’s totally okay to mutter obscenities into the bin at this point.
2 – Try putting their food on your own plate. Much like ex-boyfriends, snacks become infinitely more appealing when somebody else wants them. Take this to the next level by giving their food to another child. Your little angel may not want your poxy carrot sticks, but they’ll go batshit crazy if you let someone else gnaw on them.
3 – A foolproof recipe for when you have a little time on your hands. Place food items on the floor, ideally beneath the rug. Coat liberally with dust/hair/unidentifiable ick, and leave to rest (about a week should do it). Kids can’t get enough of that stuff. Bonus points for successful foraging sessions when the Health Visitor pops over…
4 – Make sure everyone else in the house is on board with the whole healthy eating malarkey. The chances of your little one finishing their dinner are dramatically reduced when someone (naming no names here, but he’s getting feck all for Father’s Day), waltzes in mid-meal with a marshmallow kebab covered in rainbow sprinkles. Dinner is now in the bin, the sprinkles are now in your hair, and Daddy’s now in the doghouse. Nobody wins.
5 – Relocate all meals to nursery. As part of their lifelong mission to make you look like a complete bullshitter in front of other people, your child will happily wolf down mixed-bean cassoulet, lamb and apricot tagine, basically ANYTHING that those magical nursery pixies whip up for them. FML.
6 – It’s time to bring out the big guns, aka “Here comes the choo choo train/aeroplane/monster truck!!!”. If your offspring is a fan of Postman Pat, try using one of his many vehicles here instead (see my previous post) – he’s rarely on time and always takes the most convoluted route, so with any luck you’ll lull your child into a false sense of security and get a few mouthfuls in whilst you still have the element of surprise.
7 – If all else fails, admit defeat and opt for one of the following pre-approved food groups:
– Anything shaped like a dinosaur/smiley face/woodland creature
– Anything battered and/or beige
– Anything produced by Cadbury
Hope that helps!