Over the last couple of weeks, my three year old has really gone off eating breakfast. I know kids tend to go through understandable short term phases, but when you are as active as she is, it concerned me that she was not fueling up properly for the day ahead, often having an eleven o clock slump, feeling tired and grumpy because of it…much like us big ones I guess if we neglect to fuel our bodies properly. I know I feel dizzy come lunch time if I skip breakfast.
I was trying the usual, eating together, offering different options, buying in her previous usual favourite things. She nibbled bits, she always eats something. But she just wasnt excited to eat anymore and I wanted to change that.
So, this week, I took action! I decided that me and her simply were not having enough fun, in all aspects of our life, but with the food in particular. I have been fortunate enough that I introduced real food to my daughter from a really early age, so there is next to nothing she wont at least try. But meal times shouldnt be seen as a chore, food is amazing and there’s so much we don’t know about. I never want her to think she has to eat her food, I want her to know eating is a pleasure and to look forward to it.
With that in mind, I decided to start making her food more like play time! Kids, especially three year olds, thrive off activities and fun! More than anything, I wanted to make her smile again.
So yesterday morning, we came downstairs and she said she was hungry. She opened the fridge, already like a teenager, seeing nothing she much fancied and walked out of the kitchen again huffing to go and slump in her mini arm chair. I smiled and left her to it and felt excited that I was going to surprise her with something she didn’t expect. It’s so easy to quickly rush a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast. Most days you have to if you have work or have large family commitments. However, if you can genuinely say to yourself you have 10 minutes to spare that morning, its well worth investing a little more time to give something different a try!
I made her some pancakes. Not the usual circle ones. Still using a standard batter (I just used 1 egg and as much flour and milk as I needed.) I poured in random amounts around the bottom of the pan making sure the batter edges didn’t meet. Turns out it made a load of random shapes , some even vaguely resembled dinosaurs and a U.F.O I thought. I chopped up some fresh berries and did a pot of yoghurt with a paintbrush dipped in ready for her to get busy. I covered it with a tea towel and said I had a surprise. (Three year olds love that word.) The look on her face when I whipped it away was priceless. She adored that she could glue on her berries with the yoghurt and essentially make crafts with her breakfast. She was excited, mealtime no longer was rushed to get back and play because it was the play and she ate lots in the process. We did it again tonight for dinner ;-). A little imagination goes a long way with children this young.
Above: Sure I can see a couple of by chance dinosaurs in there!Above: One happy girl x
Above: Emi just checking the yoghurt glue wasnt real! Theres only one way to check after all!
This morning I wanted to surprise her again and she was actually smiling at me when she asked what was for breakfast. She knew something was coming again. So today, I made her day by saying we could have her favourite, ice cream, for breakfast! Well, that just blew her little mind.
She said “Ice cream? For breakfast? Ha!”. Throwing her head back and laughing as she does. I love seeing her thinking when something changes the game plan! Before you spit out your tea and call me a bad mom, give me a break. I wouldn’t actually give my daughter sugar laden ice cream as a promoted way of having a good breakfast! We made our own instant soft scoop ice cream using bananas I had frozen the night before. This one is great, really quick and super healthy!
You simply blend frozen bananas with whatever other ingredient or flavour you fancy. We made two types to try, one with fresh strawberries and frozen bananas and a chocolate ice cream which is just the bananas, 1 tsp of cocoa powder and a squeeze of honey. The strawberry one doesn’t need sweetening but cocoa can be quite bitter so that needed the honey I thought. Plus the chocolate one is really gooey almost like a pudding, which feels great to be allowed in the morning! Add a splash of milk to the chocolate one too to loosen it up a bit, a little goes a long way. So with just two ingredients in the strawberry one and four in the chocolate one, all natural and healthy, it makes a great start to the day and is really fun too.Above: Thats enough now Emi!Above: mmmmm I try some too!Above: Loving her treat breakfast x Above: Yummy and healthy too x
It takes all of about a minute and makes an instant soft scoop ice cream that is super healthy but feels like a treat. Just make sure you only blend until the bananas have no more lumps. If you do it more than that your soft scoop will become more of a thick shake! Best of all its something she could join in with, again, getting her excited by eating what she’s made herself rather than just being handed something and told it has to be eaten. Food has to be fun! Especially when kids are learning!
There are loads of fun things to try.
Making faces out of Fruit shapes is a nice one to do with them. (Bananas slit in half are perfect for a big smily mouth!).
We make porridge and make shapes on the top decorating with dried fruits and a squeeze of honey or jam. Hearts is a favourite and she always does me one on mine 😉 xAbove: Emi with her blueberry heart porridge on Valentines day this year x
I am a realist and I do understand that food play isn’t always achievable or quick enough to do every day of the week. I am not suggesting that. I am going to aim to dedicate at least the weekend mornings to doing this for her and with her, more if I can, but at least those two days. Setting realistic goals is better than just saying I have no time or it’s too much upkeep. The child having one fun food day to look forward to each week is better than none at all.
You don’t have to keep it to one certain meal event either. We do the same with lunches sometime.
Making lettuce boats she can fill with chicken and salad herself and float across the table like on water is always fun (Thank god for wipe clean table cloths!)
Letting her draw a face on her hard-boiled egg shell after she has eaten and reenacting humptey dumptey before smashing his shell with her spoon is another firm favourite!
Using my inherited sherry glasses from Nan and letting her have her own little glass of wine at the dinner table always makes her feel really grown up and not left out. (It is squash for the record ;-0.)Above: Emi with her mini wine x
Kids just want to be involved so give something a bit more inventive a try to see if they like it. Theres a good chance they will x