If I could say which element of parenting I find the most stressful, I’d say anything to do with eating, for sure. Give me a full on toddler temper tantrum to deal with over a spilt bowl of macaroni cheese any day. Violet hasn’t been the easiest baby to wean – I think the combination of her being a fussy little thing and me being a first timer hasn’t been great. Obviously, I’ve tried my best to offer her a wide variety of foods, but she knows what she likes and has a small appetite so there isn’t too much I can do about that, so I’ve learned to stop stressing as much as I can.
Today I wanted to talk about a few tips on family meal times that have helped us with the slightly more stressful times. I’m a firm believer that eating dinner as a family is such an important thing, even with a toddler who can’t yet converse or tell us all about her day, we still enjoy family time together every evening, without fail. We also wanted to instil good table manners and the habit of sitting at the table to eat from day one. Eating at the table has also massively helped with her fussiness too. So, if you are in the same boat as me with a picky little toddler – I hope you find these tips helpful (and do make sure you read down to the bottom as I have a giveaway to win a Peppa Pig Tableware set from Portmeirion too!)
Eat the same thing together
One of the main changes in Violet’s eating habits has been since we have been able to eat the same foods together. When she was first weaning I’d try her with all different things like purees, vegetable sticks, pieces of cut up cheese etc but she’d just look at me like I’d placed something horrific on her table and didn’t really know what to do! I soon noticed that her curiosity was always around what we were eating and wanting to try some of our dinners, rather than her own. Now she’s a little bit older and can eat everything we have and it’s SO MUCH EASIER. Firstly, there is no need to prepare two different dishes and secondly, eating together really encourages her. Win, Win. We will definitely do this sooner with our second baby and save the drama of making separate food for her!
Make things fun with fun!
I’ve found having fun, colourful tableware and cutlery has really helped. We recently tried her with this gorgeous Peppa Pig Tableware set from Portmeirion which she loves (although I was feeling slightly nervous about as it’s made from porcelain) but I think having pretty plates stopped her from her urge to throw them on the floor as she was so intrigued! Violet is the biggest Peppa Pig fan, so gets so excited when she sees her favourite characters on the plates. This seems to encourages her to eat even more and takes lots of the stress out of mealtimes.
Another tip is that she also loves her food being cut into silly faces, shapes or different colours – all these things help when you have a fussy little one, so give them a go!
Eat home grown foods
Since we moved house we’ve been loving growing some fruit and vegetables in our garden! We have a big vegetable patch, 4 different fruit trees, a greenhouse and a strawberry patch. It’s all rather new to us as we only moved in May so we haven’t had a chance to really get growing as much as we’d like – but we’ve already enjoyed peaches, strawberries and tomatoes from our own garden, with tons of apples on the way too. Next year we will start growing even earlier and enjoy home grown fruit and veggies all summer! Violet has really enjoyed watching the plants grow and will understand and enjoy it even more next year I’m sure.
Be a good example
Eating together as a family certainly helps to start table manners early on. Even though Violet is still small we wanted to start early and always try and set a good example by sitting at the table having a good chat, using cutlery properly and good manners – rather than using our phones or sitting down to eat on the sofa etc. Hopefully this way she’ll never know too much of a difference and it’ll become second nature to her!
One of the best weaning tips someone gave me with a fussy little one is NEVER to stress about dinner. If Violet isn’t wanting to eat, I have learned to stop saying ‘please try a bit!’ or keep offering her food when she’s clearly said no (as tempting as it is!). This can build a really negative adverse reaction in toddlers which makes them hate dinner time even more as they feel so pressured. If Violet doesn’t want to eat, I now just calmly clear the plates away (even if in my head I’m sad as I’ve spent 45 mins cooking for nothing!) and move on. When she does eat well she also gets lots of praise and she does love the classic ‘aeroplane’ noises with the fork to spur her on even more, so that is all okay too!
I hope those tips were helpful and got you in the mood for a family meal together! Now for the fun bit…..
If you have a Peppa Pig fanatic in your house, you can head over to my Instagram, where I am running a giveaway to win:
- Peppa Pig 3 piece London Tableware set – including plate bowl and mug
- Peppa Pig London Mug
- Peppa Pig Place mat and Coaster Set
- Peppa Pig Melanine Tray
(Ends 12th August 2018, Open to UK residents only)