SUYL – Food for Small Folk

So, Kelly‘s ‘Show Us Your Life’ this week is all about what to feed toddlers and pre-schoolers! Now, I’ve not yet been blessed with kids of my own, and may never have kids, but I’ve worked with children for over half of my lifetime, so I thought I’d share what has worked for me. I’ve dealt with all sorts of wee folk, from the greediest gannets to the pickiest eaters, so the first thing I’d say is that it’s important to find a style of food and eating that works for your child and your family.

One little boy I used to day nanny for would not eat in his high chair or at the table ever. He also hated to eat at the table. However, as I observed him, I noticed that while he disdained his own food, he would love to ‘steal’ little pieces of my food. So at suppertime I took to setting up his mat and sippy cup next to me, with a few child size pieces of whatever I was eating (sandwich, pasta twirls, chopped up apple and mato) on his side.

As I ate away and chatted with him, he would (very politely – I’m a fiend for manners!) say “Care, me have pease?” and point to one of the little things. He would then merrily munch away on his tidbit. After a few weeks of this I moved his little pieces onto a separate plate, which gradually moved all the way over to his spot. And lo and behold, we had a great little eater :-). I think with toddlers it is definitely a case of thinking creatively!

As I said, I have also looked after loads of littles who love to eat and some favourites have been:

* Chopped up fruit, veggies, cheese and bread – little snack size things that are fun for little hands to hold and master
* Smiley plates – using fruit or veggies, making smiley faces and patterns.
* Pasta tends to be quite popular, and the sauce can be a very sneaky way of getting extra veggies to any reluctant souls.
* Child-sized portions of whatever you’re eating. Maybe I’ve just always looked after nosy toddlers, but they’ve always been absolutely fascinated by whatever I’ve been eating. I’ve also found that eating at the same time as a little one (even if you’re just having a slice of toast and eating later) can take the pressure off / reduce trouble as they no longer have an audience.
* I’ve also had great success by involving littles in the cooking process – somehow, for some littlies when they see you chopping the veggies for the soup or they help you count out the pasta twirls, they are happier to then eat the finished product.

Hope these tips help. Also hope it’s okay that I wrote as a non-mum – just thought my experience might give someone a tip or two. I miss my littlies some days, but also remember what a huge amount of work they can be!

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  1. Riot Kitty
    4th February 2011 / 7:51 pm

    How sweet and clever of you to figure out how to feed that little boy, and what a cute story! I've always been called a picky eater. As an adult, I've realized that translated into "vegetarian."

  2. Sparkling Red
    4th February 2011 / 9:33 pm

    That's an adorable story. Ah, kids. They are such little characters.

  3. Mrs. V
    5th February 2011 / 3:10 pm

    You are very right! My daughter is only 10 months but right when she started showing interest in our food is when we let her start having some of her own. We also eat at the table for all meals, and she has a little booster type seat that sits in a dining room chair, so she is just like us. I don't eat breakfast normally, so when she has hers I just sit with her and have my tea/coffee at the table. You have some great tips. Just stopping by from Kelly's Korner. Have a great day!

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