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How do I get my child to eat dinner?

Kids and dinnertime… name a more problematic duo. We’ll wait!

Mealtime is a universal struggle, and as a parent, it can be frustrating and worrying if your child is a fussy eater. It’s important to remember that no matter how futile mealtime can seem, it isn’t unusual for kids to be picky, and the worst way to approach the situation is with parental anxiety.

Here are our top tips for making mealtimes easier on your little one (and yourself!):

1. Set realistic and compassionate expectations

If you’re giving a child a food for the first time, naturally, they’re going to be a bit suspicious! Remove the pressure for them to actually eat a proper serving of the food, and instead let them see, smell, touch and eventually taste it in their own time. Food is sensory and the more comfortable a child feels around it, the more comfort they’ll develop in eating it.

2. Don’t make separate meals

Beckoning to the picky choices your child corners you into a very dangerous spot. Honouring their desire for simple, usually carb-driven meals means that your plate will end up looking the same. Instead, cook what you want for dinner, and serve your child aspects of that meal on a big plate where they can pick and choose each element individually. Plus, children mimic what they see, and if they see you eating an array of foods, they’re more likely to follow.

3. Make mealtime fun

Mealtime doesn’t have to be a chore for you or your child. Get them involved when they’re young. That could involve them collecting ingredients from the fridge, helping to set the table, or sitting them on the bench while you prepare. Kids are inquisitive and more often than not, they really want to be involved with what you’re doing. If you’re looking for some child-friendly equipment like bowls, spoons, ice block moulds and more, our mealtime archive is full of products to introduce your little one to the kitchen:

4.Embrace the mess

This is always the bit that parents least want to hear, because it’s a change to be made on the grown up’s part more so than your child’s. Embrace the fact that mealtime will be messy. Food will fall on the floor, clothes will get stained, and your kitchen will look very different to a time before children! Make food an exploration.

The less stressed you become about getting your child to eat, the less stressed they’ll feel about eating new and varied foods.

To make mealtime a little less messy, check out our range of bibs and bowls that stick to the table