Mother and Baby

13 Brilliant Toddler Food Hacks

Section: Meals & Baking
Whether you’re considering entering Masterchef or just consider it a success if you don’t burn the fish fingers, these are the food hacks that’ll make mealtimes more fun (and easier) for all of you
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Train your mini sous chef

Getting your tot involved in growing, preparing or cooking her own food can make her far more interested in eating the end product. [Corbis]
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Stay positive

Toddler tries asparagus for the first time or eats a whole broccoli floret without spitting it out? Treat it like the best achievement since he first sat up. [Getty]
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Offer choice

If your toddler isn’t a fan of veg cooked one way, offer it to her in a different way. ‘She may not like cooked carrots, but she might eat them raw and grated,’ says food blogger and Great British Bake Off finalist Holly Bell, who's assisting the Organix No Junk Challenge. ‘Also your child’s choices change over time – so don't give up on offering them.’ [Corbis]
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Go all food detective

Instead of asking your tot to eat, try or taste her food, start off by exploring other aspects of it with her. ‘Show her how to smell strawberries, lick them to feel the bumpiness of the seeds and roll it gently on the table,’ suggests Holly. ‘When available, buy broad beans in their pods and get your child to help you shell them into a bowl. Talk about how they feel and see who can find the biggest bean.’ [Corbis]
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Fast food

You can speed up breakfast without forgoing the healthy element. ‘Make up a fruit salad the night before and then just putting a big bowl on the table and letting everyone help themselves,’ says Holly. ‘And lastly microwaved poached eggs are quick and very good at filling the children up with protein.’ [Alamy]
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Serve dinner outside…

A change of scenery instantly makes dinner more exciting. Everyone likes al fresco dining – even if it’s cold! [Getty]
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… Or on the floor

If it’s raining or you just can’t face taking everything outside, put a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic for dinner. [Corbis]
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Make menus together

Ask your tot to make up some menus for dinner. It will keep her busy and add to the idea that it’s a fun event. ‘Alternatively, buy a cheap paper tablecloth, and either write yourself, or better still get your child to write, the menu on it with drawings,’ says Holly. ‘It gives her something to do while waiting to eat and appeals to her anarchic spirit as writing on tablecloths is usually a no-no.’ [Corbis]
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Consult your child

Before going food shopping, talk to your child about what she would like to eat in the coming week – children like to be consulted on what they are eating and together you can tick off their five a day. [Corbis]
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Play Masterchef

This sounds like it’s asking for trouble, (or insults) but it does work. Arm your toddler with a pad of paper and ask him to give each dish a mark out of 10. If he didn’t like it, ask him to explain to you why as best he can. ‘Provide lots of little dishes – like a picnic – to encourage him to try each flavor and write down notes on the taste or texture,’ says Holly. [Corbis]
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Serve family-friendly meals

Rather than worrying about making two dinners each evening – one for your tot and one for you and your partner – focus on making meals that you’ll both like. Shepherds pie, lasagne, frittata, homemade burgers, kebabs and pesto pasta are all delish ideas for you all to tuck into. [Corbis]
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Play some mood music

Eating Italian food? Play the Italian national anthem or some opera while your tot’s eating. ‘French, Chinese, Italian, helps set the scene for the music and may make them less inclined to leave the table instantly,’ explains Holly.
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Track your toddler’s progress

Keep a sticker chart to monitor your tot’s progress. Give your tot a sticker to add to her chart every time she finishes a meal – or has a good attempt – and once her chart’s complete choose a suitable reward. [Corbis]

What are your toddler food hacks? Let us know in the comments box below.

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