Feeding children can be a challenge for many reasons because so many different factors impact the success or failure of mealtime. Is the child picky? Is the child too hungry or not hungry enough? Trying to figure out how to get children to eat is an exercise in patience, but it can also be an exercise of creativity. It may be that getting a little creative is exactly what your children need to be a little more interested in at mealtime--and maybe even a little excited.
Make Fun Shapes
Getting creative at mealtime does not have to mean being over the top. Simple creativity may actually be best in some ways. One way to jazz up a meal for your kids is to make things in fun shapes. There are a few ways you can do this. Use cookie cutters for different things, like sandwiches, fruits and vegetables. Or you can just free-hand a fun shape when you are cooking something like pancakes or baking bread. The goal is creativity and fun, not perfection. Sometimes this may mean explaining that a pancake is a dinosaur or giraffe. Children are imaginative, so allow them to use theirs if a fun-shaped meal comes out a little lopsided. A failed attempt will probably get a laugh and maybe a pity tasting at the very least.
Use Fun Colors
The next time you are planning your grocery list for the grocery store, try to think of different ways to inject color into mealtime. Food coloring can be how you go about making a bland-looking dish into something a bit more vibrant. But you can also choose to use natural substitutes as well. Want to make the plain white yogurt into something more fun? Smush some blueberries and use the juice for the children, you add the smashed blueberries to your yogurt with some other goodies like other fruit or chia seeds. This will have the added benefit of having your children see you eat the same fun dish they are which is an incentive for any child hoping to be like the adult they love.
Have Fun Themes
Not every dish or meal can be made a lot of fun. But in these instances, mealtime itself can be. Make mealtime, especially dinnertime, an event. Think about the country the meal you are cooking originated in and find simple but fun ways to make the room reflect that country. Maybe this means printing and cutting out little flags of the country to tape to the wall and setting the table with a colorful table cloth. This may require a bit of forethought and preparation, but it will be fun and your children will enjoy the experience which may make them enjoy mealtime just a little bit more. It does not guarantee they will eat well, but they might and that is really all you can hope for.
Sometimes adults forget that food can be intimidating and scary for children. Many of you may love dishes now that once terrified you as children. Remember that when you are preparing food for your children. Channel your inner child and make mealtime imaginative and maybe it will be just a little bit easier.