Making mealtimes magical for kids

Senior Specialist Dietitian at Bupa Cromwell Hospital
24 October 2018

As a mother and a dietitian, I love to put a bit of colour into my kids’ meal times. I want to help them think of eating healthy food as something they should enjoy. Here I’ll pass on some tips for making things fun – and share two quick and easy recipes which you can watch me cook in the video below.

Pancakes

Video: two fun breakfast recipes for kids

Both recipes in the following video are high in iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, while low in sugar. In other words, great for growing children!



Recipes from the video

Breakfast pancakes with fruit

  • 100g flour (half white, half wholemeal)
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • pinch of salt
  • fruit to serve

Whisk the flour, egg, milk and salt in a bowl. Fry over a medium heat until nicely brown, flipping halfway. Serve with strawberries or your child's favourite fruit.

 Pancakes

Cinnamon eggy toast with fruit and yoghurt

  • 1 egg
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 40ml milk
  • 2 slices of bread (cut into fun shapes)
  • fruit and yoghurt to serve

Whisk the egg, cinnamon and milk in a bowl, then dunk the bread shapes into the mixture. Fry in a little oil, turning halfway. Serve with yoghurt, peanut butter, cheese or anything you would like!


Eggy toast

Don’t fear the mess!

When it comes to making mealtimes fun, my first tip is to come to terms with messy eating. All parents know the frustration of carefully putting a meal together for your kid, only to watch as they fling the food around the room!

Of course, you’d much rather they ate everything put in front of them, and in a civilised manner – but try not to worry too much. It’s natural for children to be playful and experimental with food at this age. If you can manage it, welcome the mess and most importantly have fun. In between all the play, they’ll hopefully take some bites, and over time the eating should become much more interesting for them than the throwing. Ask them to help you clean up when they’re finished – turn it into a game.


A young girl eating cereal

Try new recipes together

Children will also look forward to trying new recipes, and get very excited about cooking with you. Taking an active role in choosing, preparing and cooking meals can help children to eat a wider variety of foods, especially if they are fussy eaters.

Many of the physical skills needed when cooking help to strengthen children’s little hands. Tasks such as holding a spoon, mixing, stirring, rolling, kneading, pouring and whisking all help develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.

Brighten up the table

There are so many ways that you can accessorise and put a bit of colour into mealtimes. It could be a brightly patterned tablecloth, or kids’ cutlery and plates with fun designs. You can even cut the food itself into novelty shapes using cookie cutters. Older kids might love helping you to set the table if they have all of these at their disposal. You can also buy little aprons and chef sets – kids love dressing up!

Include the right nutrients

It’s important for children not to eat too much fibre. Children aren’t like adults; they have tiny tummies, so they need a lot of nutrients in a compact form. So for example if you're baking, you can mix white flour and brown flour together. Fibre is found in wholemeal bread, pasta and flour. It can also be found in fruit and vegetables.

Rather than allowing children to become too full on fibre, I would rather they have some more nutrient-rich food such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and eggs. This will provide them with calcium, protein, iron and other important vitamins and minerals, including zinc and vitamin B6.

Of course, it’s all about balance, and you shouldn’t cut out fibre completely. Offering some fruit and vegetables is a good thing. Aim for five portions a day with one portion being as big as the palm of their hand. This will provide them with vitamins (especially vitamin C) and some iron (dark vegetables). Bread, pasta, flour and starchy carbohydrates also have their place, as this food group provides a lot of B vitamins and energy.

We have another article on how much fibre children should eat which has more tips about this.

Getting help with your kid’s diet

If your child has particular dietary requirements – for example they're allergic to milk, or peanuts, or are vegan – I'd encourage you to seek help from a qualified dietitian. With the right help it’ll be a lot easier to make sure you’re giving them all the nutrients they need to thrive.




Here at Bupa we understand how important your family is. So with our family health insurance you can rest assured knowing that eligible treatment and support is available for your loved ones when they need it.

Maya Aboukhater
Senior Specialist Dietitian at Bupa Cromwell Hospital

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