Anyone with a toddler will relate to the battle with getting your kids to eat healthy food. Harvey ate just about anything as a baby but became a toddler dinner became frustrating. I spent so much time in the kitchen cooking him beautiful meals, only to have them thrown on the floor or in my hair. There have been tantrums and tears- not just from Harvey. 

But these days both Harvey and Chloe are considerably good eaters. Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of food fights but things are pretty good. Here is what I found works for us.

REGULAR EATING- Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and healthy desert. And lots of water. 

COOK IN BULK- whether you work or a stay at home mum, cooking, bulk dinners for your kids is a lifesaver. I spend a couple of hours each month making bulk dinners and every time we cook, I do more than we need so I can freeze. They are packed with hidden veg and then, on busy days, dinner only takes a couple of minutes to heat and serve and I am not giving them rubbish when I am time poor.

EAT TOGETHER- on the nights that you can make it work, we sit down together and eat the same meal. I find they copy you and see you eating healthy too. Conversations about things other than dinner is also a great distraction from the ‘i don’t like it’ attitude. I have found that when I’m not at the table, they stuff about and muck up.

HIDE IT- shredded veg can be hidden into so many meals, like sausages rolls, bolognaise, pasta sauces, meatball mixtures, bakes and lasagnes etc. I have been working on more to share soon!

LESS PRESSURE- sitting and watching isn’t great. If I’m not eating with him, I’m folding washing or unpacking the dishwasher and talking to him about something other than eating- his day at daycare or the exciting adventures we have planned this weekend, I even dance. Anything but ‘hurry up and eat your dinner’.

NEW FOODS- If they don’t like it the first time, take a week or two off and try again. I found persistence is the key and I don’t make a big thing of it. I just keep sticking it on the plate. I’ve read it takes a huge amount of exposure to new foods for them to feel comfortable to try it. If he rejected it, I ignored it and tried again later.

UNDERSTANDING where food comes from- A veggie patch has been amazing for my kids to learn and eat from the garden. We also compost together.

POSITIVE- I never talk to Paul about it when the kids are not eating. I ignore it. And I don’t let them know I’m frustrated. A little trick- I have found that pretending something is mine often encourages him to eat it. Don’t eat that banana, that’s mine! What do you know, the banana is shoved in the mouth. If he says I don’t like something, I usually ignore. 

KIDS COOKING- I allow them to help prep and be involved in the whole process. From start- to eating. There is some great kids knives and cutters around. I let them help with the stirring or pouring and taste testing, even serving. 

TREATS- I allow Harvey to have a treat but only really when we are out. I don’t want junk in the house and if it’s not here he isn’t going to ask for it. The best thing is, not to introduce it! If we get a take away, l love to eat it outside so its a treat and not the usual kitchen table meal. The moment I give them a chicken nugget, they are just going to want chicken nuggets.

MAKE ME TIME FUN- smiley faces, shapes and colours and fun plates. I often will have a dinosaur on the table if we are eating green pasta for example and pretend he is eating too.

And I try remember that every toddler comes out of the fussy stage and when you can finally reason with them and they understand that eating healthy is important, they will.