Monday, June 30, 2014

How to be successful at the dinner table...with kids.

My oldest daughter came craved fruits and veggies when she was in the womb, when she came out, it didn't change. My youngest wasn't as much of a fan, but I did not give up.

When I was working a ton of hours, the kids got out of the habit of eating fruits and veggies. Hubby did his best, but would often forget to offer them fruits and veggies at snack and meal times.

While my oldest continues to raid the refrigerator in the middle of the night for carrots, my youngest wants candy, chips and cheese. Since I have been home, I have made it my goal to introduce her to fruits and veggies again, and hopefully develop a love for them.

One rule for introducing foods to kids, is that you MUST give them to them more than once or twice. It will often take 7-8 times of introducing a food to a child before they will accept them. Despite the fact that my youngest refused to eat an apple, I continued to give a few slices to her at meal time. The other day she surprised me by eating them and asking for more. She will not eat green apples, but loves the red ones. So the red ones she will get.

If you still cannot get your child to eat a certain food, try cooking it or preparing it differently. Many children will not eat cooked broccoli, but will love it raw, maybe with a little ranch dressing. After awhile of eating them raw, try cooking them again, but maybe just a light steam. Eventually, they will eat them like you prepare them for the whole family. It takes work, but isn't it worth it to have a child that will eat a wide range of foods?

Another thing you must do, is not to give them the same thing every day. If they always have waffles for breakfast, nuggets for lunch and chicken with rice for dinner, they will not develop a taste for anything with flavor. Do not be afraid to season their food a little. When my kids are young, I do not season the food, I let them know the food in its pure state. Once they get older, I will start to add things like garlic and onion and herbs.

Try not to cook something different for your kids than what you eat. I find this one hard at times. I will use my oldest as an example. I would always make something different for her when hubby and I would make steaks for dinner. She is not a meat eater and calls everything chicken. After having a friend of mine ask why I wouldn't share a great steak with the kids, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter had all the steak I gave her and said it was the best chicken she had ever had.

Make sure the meals and snacks you set in front of your kids have a wide range of colors and textures. We all love pretty things, food isn't any different. Offer a fruit, veggie, meat and maybe a starch or grain at every meal. You do not have to offer a whole lot of a food, but a few pieces of each, will go a long way to filling up your little one. Remember, their tummies are tiny! You can always offer more if they want more of something. We have a rule though, they have to try one bite of everything on their plate before having more of something.

One last bit, do not offer snacks before dinner time. We are all guilty of this. We are trying to get dinner going and the kids are yelling at us that they are hungry. This is a great lesson in patience. Find something else to distract them, whether it is a game, a chore, or having them help you in the kitchen. The last one is a great idea. My oldest would only eat cheese pizza until I had her help me make pizzas. She went to town adding different veggies to hers. She was so happy to have created it, she ate three pieces!

To wrap it up, offer new foods to your kids multiple times and in different ways. Eventually they will eat them. Offer a wide array of colors and textures, who wants to eat a bunch of bland texture lacking foods. Have the kids help you in the kitchen to distract them from snacking before dinner. Last but not least, have fun experimenting with food. Your kids will end up having a wonderful developed pallet for all different kinds of food.