We live in a culture where bigger is better and somehow, that has become a popular way of thinking when it comes to babies too. As I sat in a circle with other mums at a baby group with my little one on my lap I listened, ‘mine is only 6 months old but wears 9-12 month clothing’. Her friend quipped, ‘mine is 9 months old and where’s clothes for 18 month olds as she eats loads and she even ate some our pizza and garlic bread last night.’
I felt like I was doing my boy an injustice and I worried for his health. No matter which concoction of vegetables or fruits I offered him, he just would not open his mouth. I sang to him, sat him in the garden and even did messy play with food for him to befriend it. I cut his milk back to trigger off more hunger, but nothing. When he was about 8-9 months old I sought medical advice and you know what they told me? They told me he would probably never be an eater, he would always be smaller than average and that he would just not be interested.
I took a deep breath and hushed the expletives roaring around in my head. How can they doom him to a life of food indifference with such conviction? I calmly and firmly told them that I was a very fussy eater as a child and now I am healthy, food loving food writer.
I have learned a lot along the way to getting my boy interested in food. He now loves yoghurty dhal, dosa and spicy vegetable pasta dishes and of course spinach pizza. Here’s some of the things that helped me;
1. I had an ‘aha’ moment when one of my friends pointed out that my boy was getting lots of lovely flavours of Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian food through his milk from what I was eating. So then why would he want a boiled carrot. Introducing flavour and spice in food helps to keep it exciting. kids like flavour too.
2. Eating together as a family means that meal times are a fun and a sociable activity and my boy loves to join in.
3. Variety. In the earl days of weaning I would just give my boy his one bowl of food and if he stopped eating, I thought he was no longer hungry. What I found however is that smaller portions of a variety of items keeps the taste buds and mind stimulated and the tummy ends up fuller. It need not be laborious; I make home-made spiced and unsalted butter and spread it on seeded bread, for example.
4. Eating with other children is fun. I sometimes invite his friends over for pasta and veg with garlic bread. My boy loves to join in with his friends and especially with crunchy, spice and veg filled spring rolls.
5. Taking a picnic or a packed lunch for a day out makes for fun eating. Unravelling goodies whilst sharing special moments as a family is a delight that little ones will share too.
6. Sometimes, he is just not hungry and that’s fine. We don’t always eat three full meals. It’s ok to take the pressure off and leave it until the next meal.
My recipe works really well with my boy and his friends because these spring rolls are crunchy, packed with flavour and they are great hand-held treats for independent eating or eating on the go. Parents love them because they are baked and can be frozen, which is really handy for busy weekdays when you can just whip a few out and put them in the oven
For the full recipes head over to Great British Chef