We all like our food to look nice on the plate and perhaps you can even remember a few ‘wow’ moments when a beautifully presented dish was served to you in a restaurant? Well, it is probably no surprise to you to hear that toddlers also ‘eat with their eyes’, and by making something look appetising, colourful and even fun, you have a better chance they will try it and eat it.
This doesn’t mean you have to turn your kitchen into a cordon bleu cooking zone (phew!) but rather, just keep colour and appearance to the front of your mind when preparing meals and snacks – particularly if you have a fussy eater on your hands!
Here are a few tips to help you on the way to fun, healthy meal and snacks for your little one:
- Keep it small: A large plate of food can be overwhelming for little eyes and tummies so don’t overcrowd the plate. They can always come back for more!
- Include something they can pick up with their hands: While table manners and managing cutlery are life skills we pass on to our children allow your toddlers to pick up, feel, smell and taste an array of new foods – the knives and forks will come later! Chop fruits and vegetables into easy pieces to pick up, use pasta shapes and small pieces of cheese are always popular.
- Put it on a stick!: Threading a few colourful pieces of fruit, softly cooked vegetables or cheese on a small wooden skewer will certainly interest your toddler (Just be very careful to supervise them and help them remove it from the stick!). Small pieces of cooked chicken or firm fish can also be served like this – easy to handle and fun to eat.
- Go for ‘self-service’: Rather than pre-filling everyone’s plate at dinner time, try presenting all of the foods on offer in bowls down the centre of the table. Then ask your toddler what they would like to have – try to include at least one familiar food they will definitely like. Over time, if they are a little hesitant, they will learn by example when they see others trying lots of different foods. This is also a great way to show your child that mealtimes are a fun, sociable time to share with family members.