Feeding a Three Year Old: “Get Your Kids to Eat Anything” by Emily Leary [Gifted]
Since we first started weaning T at six months, meals times have actually been a pretty enjoyable experience – surprisingly. We’d heard horror stories of six month olds refusing meals, gagging or choking, or turning your living room into a work of abstract art. As they get older, I’d read about two year olds demanding their sandwiches cut into triangles and NOT squares or avoiding anything that’s coloured green. With T though, probably because we chose to follow a Baby-Led Weaning regime, this hasn’t been the case. T will generally give anything a go at least once and will always want what we’re eating if we’re out at a restaurant.
That being said, over the past year or so, T has become quite sensitive to certain textures. Foods such as cooked mushrooms and onions, roasted peppers, and leafy substances such as spinach (cooked or raw) and lettuces are things he’s likely to pick out of a meal. It’s a very odd turn of events, especially as he’ll happily the eat raw versions of some of these. Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me, as I know he’ll just pick it out and carry on with his dinner (thank the gods), but other times it can be quite stressful either trying to cut something up so small that he won’t notice or messing around finding all the mushrooms once he realises they’re in his dinner.
Just in the nick of time though, before it got out of hand, we received some help.
*contains affiliate links
Get Your Kids to Eat Anything!
In my opinion, Baby Led Weaning is probably the easiest way to wean your child long-term. There’s no faffing around with pureéing or cooking separate meals (they eat what you eat!) and you know what’s in their meal (resulting in us removing all salt from our meals!) Equally, your child learns how to swallow and to manage food in “lump form”, as well as how to regulate their intake. It generally creates a really awesome relationship with food.
But as soon as your child is fully weaned, eating three solid meals a day and (a lot of) snacks, you’re pretty much on your own. This is great in some respect, but when your child suddenly falls out of love with something that they ate with no problem literally a few days ago and now refuses to even give it a try, you feel a bit stuck. You don’t want to make a huge thing out of it, but equally you want them to stop it immediately and go back to the person they were yesterday.
This is where Emily’s new cook has recently come in handy!
Get Your Kids to Eat Anything! is an achievable “how to” for parents in the battle to overcome picky eating… addressing the issue of “fussy eating” in a holistic way that links imagination with food, and with situates parents alongside – not in opposition to – their children.
I’ve followed Emily for a number of years, often relying on her for batch bakes for the freezer or a quick and easy tea. Plus, since going (mostly) gluten free, Emily has been an amazing resource for Gluten-Free and/or Vegan recipes. She’s also a pretty decent human being. Therefore, I was absolutely delighted to receive this amazing gift* in the post last month.
Starting at the beginning, the book takes you through a whole new approach to family cookingthe book takes you through a whole new approach to family cooking using Emily’s ‘Five-Phase-Approach’ from putting the unfamiliar into the familiar to (eventually) cementing variety. Along the way you’re invited to add subtle flavours (such as new herbs and spices) or alternative textures to old favourites or by trying new recipes from the book if your littles ones are up for it. This is not a recipe book, but a “how to” onto a path of food discovery!
Throughout the book Emily emphasises the importance of having a healthy attitude to food, and I cannot agree more. If we wanted T to try something like fish, we had to too (much to Sharon’s displeasure). Otherwise, why should he if we’re not? This actually ended up with us trying new things for the sake of making sure T did and, surprisingly, it actually turned out for the best. Equally, we wanted to him want the food, so we’d often help him cook with us or let him add his own cheese topping at the end.
Over the past month we’ve been trying out all sorts of new meals and snacks – from homemade curried fish fingers to bean burgers to breakfast bars – and it’s been a triumph. Not only have we refreshed our mealtimes and kitchen cupboards – creating a treasure trove of colourful spices – but Emily has taught us about how we can develop T’s taste buds further but without the stress or worry. I don’t know about you, but I certainly fell into a trap of rotating the same meals (and flavours) throughout the month for the sake of knowing T will eat it.
The Important Stuff
Each recipe takes between 10 and 30 minutes from start to finish and often contains items from your cupboards. On the same note, if you don’t have the items stocked, a lot of the recipes contain simple and affordable ingredients that won’t break the bank. Either way, the ingredients list is modest and won’t require you to travel to far-east Asia (or your local Waitrose) for a certain spices (I’m looking at you, J.Oliver).
meals haven’t been “kiddified” or dumbed down, they are meals that even adults could enjoy without the children!
It’s probably what I love most about the book.
Going (mostly) Gluten-free, I’ve also been able to make simple substitutions (whether it be exchanging certain breads or flours) without harming the recipe. There are so many wonderful recipes, we really can’t wait to share some of our favourite recipes.
Like I said, whilst T isn’t what you would class as a “fussy” or “picky” eater, he is very conscious of how food feels, which in some way I can understand – cooked mushrooms are pretty “sluggish” aren’t they? It was such a shame though when he was missed out on garlic-tasting slugs covered in breadcrumbs! But thanks to some helpful hints and tips from Emily I’ve been able to incorporate some of these “problem” foods back into our meals without needing to hide them – simply by changing the way we approach them.
*We received Get Your Kids to Eat Anything! as a gift, however I have genuinely enjoyed this cookbook and decided to share my thoughts.
*Contains affiliate links where I get a few pennies for our purchase.