5 MUST DOs
1) Set up a cheerful ambience
Your toddler should sit in comfortable chair, or squat on the floor, and enjoy the meal in a harmonious atmosphere. Play some light music that your child enjoys, without getting overly distracted.
2) Repeat the same crockery daily
Kids are comforted by familiar things. So if there’s a special bowl, or dish, or mug that your child likes, repeat that piece of crockery every day. Then the little one looks forward to seeing the familiar colour, or cartoon character, or graphic, or whatever, and thinks of it as her dish, or his dish.
3) The meal can be accompanied by a favourite toy
You could serve the food with a well-loved toy on the side. Children will then include the toy as a part of their eating experience – this reinforces happy associations with meal times.
4) Make the food as attractive as possible!
Use colourful garnishing ingredients, or cut the veggies in interesting shapes to pique your toddler’s interest. For example, khichadi could have some chopped spring onions sprinkled on top. In another example, salad veggies like cucumbers and carrots can be cut into star-shaped bites.
5) Vary the textures of what they eat
Toddlers enjoy experimenting with different textures. Soft-cooked veggies, crisp toasted rusks, half-boiled eggs, there’s no limit to what your child will enjoy! Always try to offer different textures, so this helps your child’s taste buds to develop the “mouth feel” experience.
5 NO NOs
1) Don’t allow distractions like TV, or video games
If kids get caught up with a TV show, or a video game, they lose interest in the food. Alternately, they’re so distracted, that they just keep eating, without realizing that they are overstuffed. Obviously, neither of these situations makes for healthy eating.
2) Don’t force feed your child
It’s tempting, but don’t do it! Kids know when they’re full. There will be days they eat very little and other times when they’re ravenous. As long as they’re growth milestones are on track, nothing to worry about.
3) Don’t introduce too many new ingredients all together
Add a single new item for each meal, or at the most two. This allows your toddler to gradually adjust to new tastes and develop a liking for that particular ingredient.
4) Don’t let your kid play with the food
Playing with food, and then not eating it, sets an unhealthy precedent. If your child starts treating it like play doh, or chucking it around, simply take the food away. That way, they learn to respect what is on their plate!
5) Don’t expect table manners!
If your toddler is a sloppy eater, it’s cool, don’t stress. The little ones like to eat with their hands, it’s their way of testing the food. So let them! If you’re particular about your furniture, or if the floor gets messy, just slip a plastic sheet underneath, to pick up the drips.
Madhuri Iyer started her writing career as an advertising copywriter. She has edited lifestyle and fitness books for the Times of India group, and Penguin India.
Madhuri launched her first work of fiction with Pink Champagne with Indireads, an online imprint. She is author of best-selling novel Manhattan Mango, launched in 2014, with Fingerprint!
Her first lifestyle book, The SuperMom Cookbook, has just launched.
This is not just another recipe book! The SuperMom Cookbook is a lifestyle handbook that guides moms how to stock, cook and serve healthy food. SuperMoms learn the art of reducing unhealthy fats, sugars, and processed foods, and opting for wholesome substitutes instead.
And how do moms convince their kids to eat healthy? Madhuri’s Sneak & Tweak techniques are the answer. Madhuri sneaks in fresh vegetables and other wholesome ingredients into “junk food” menus. She tweaks recipes to cut out unhealthy ingredients. So the kids enjoy everything from pizza to chicken pad Thai, and yet, they don’t even know that they are getting their full supply of daily nutrients!