When I hear that parents are preparing more than one meal each evening, I am not suprised that they find feeding their family stressful. They start food preparation in the afternoon and finish after feeding their children and then later, their partner. In short, they are dealing with food, either cooking, feeding, cleaning up etc for several hours of the day.
From about one year of age, and often earlier, children can be offered the same meal as the rest of the family. They may need it chopped up so they can manage to feed themselves. They will probably still need help with foods such as yogurt, custard, soup and other foods that are eaten from a spoon.
I can hear you saying ‘they won’t eat what we eat’. They definitely won’t if they are not offered what you eat. They are likely to eat if:
- You have offered some of your leftover meals from an earlier age so they are familiar with your food.
- Your child is hungry when they come to the meal. Parents often serve dinner too close to afternoon tea. Children need to be hungry in order to want to eat. Serve dinner 2 1/2 to 3 hours after afternoon tea, so that they have had a chance to get hungry.
- You let them decide what to eat from what you have offered. Coaxing, bribing, distracting your child usually has the opposite affect to what you want. They are likely to fall for it in the beginning but not for long!
- You turn off the TV, DVD or iPad. Sure, they might eat a bit but it is a good idea that they are aware of what they are eating rather than being fed food while distracted.
- You serve whatever you want to eat. Children adapt to their family’s food rather than you having to adapt to what you think they might eat.
Let your child decide what they want to eat from what you have offered. Have at least one food you know your child will eat if they are hungry.