The fine motor skills with which your toddler knows how to separate pieces of onion from the pasta sauce suggests that a good career as a brain surgeon is certainly not excluded. They really do exist, those children who wash away black olives with a glass of beet juice at the age of two, but sooner or later most parents experience a phase where the meal suddenly seems to take place at a negotiating table.
Seeing others eat
We often hear that children eat better at the nursery than at home. The big difference is of course that there is often a large group of children at the childcare. And the old saying is true: seeing others eat, helps you eat. Sometimes the appetite seems to be mainly prompted by fear of missing out. If your neighbors at the table have finished their sandwiches within thirty seconds and are sticking out their empty plates for another one while you were still unsure about your first bite, you might reconsider. Another magical factor in the nursery is simply the distraction. It is pleasantly busy at the table, there is some singing, and everyone is chatting together. Before you know it you have eaten a whole banana.
At home, all eyes are often on the one eating toddler at the table. Logical, because for you as a parent nothing is more important than the health of your child. Sometimes your whole day seems to consist of coaching the intake of vitamins. But all that attention sometimes backfires. That is why I am a great believer in the fine dining technique on a bed of Judo: enjoying it together and moving along.
Involve your child in cooking as much as possible. It’s perfectly safe to let them cut a banana with a blunt butter knife. There are countless little chores kids enjoy, from peeling garlic to breaking off the tips of the green beans. Do not make a separate meal for your child. Maybe you can only add the chillies at the table, but a good example goes a long way. You would also be surprised if you went to eat somewhere and you were served a plate of unrecognizable mash while the hosts were enjoying delicious cannelloni with goat cheese. Eat at the table, with all family members and make it cozy. It may be too much to expect to expect homemade menus every night, but a tablecloth, a candle, and some music are quickly arranged. And then the most difficult thing comes. If your child immediately shrugs off his plate in disgust, just ignore it. Leave the plate just within reach, and chat and eat comfortably with your child and each other. A healthy child can really do with a little less food for a day or so.
A lesson for life
The above tips may not immediately lead to a toddler feasting on his raw cauliflower salad. But then you have unnoticed having a nice meal together. And that’s a lesson your child will remember for a lifetime.
Training advisor KinderRijk