Foundations for Future Foodies

{Image: from Raising Foodies}

Our Top Tips for Cultivating Future Foodies:

  • Be a good role model for your baby in their first 6 months of life – even though they are only drinking milk, they are still absorbing everything that goes on around them. If they don’t see you eating plenty of fruit and veges, then how can you expect them to do the same, when their time comes?
  • Consider Baby-Led Weaning principles when first introducing your child to solid food – or at the very least, give them every opportunity to experiment for themselves.
  • Just play it cool and don’t stress or fuss over your child if they refuse a certain food – particularly in those first 6 months of solid foods, which is purely for fun and experimentation anyway.
  • Don’t ‘dumb down’ food for your child –  its amazing how much extra flavour, spice and chilli heat they can tolerate and actually enjoy! On occasions I have attempted to tone down a dish by leaving an ingredient out or lessening the chilli factor for Sophie, she will often reach for our version and get stuck in!
  • Try not to get in to the habit of making ‘kid food’ and ‘adult food’. I’ve altered our style of cooking to emphasise time saving and convenience, but most dishes are equally appropriate for us to eat too (I certainly don’t want to miss out on the yummy stock of tuna or salmon patties or homemade baked beans in the freezer!) With a bit of luck, Sophie will never think to ask for anything else, as this is the way its always been…what we eat, she eats!
  • Try to include them at the family meal table as much as possible. It makes a huge difference to their ability to learn about food, providing an opportunity to model your behaviour. Sophie loves copying us by adding extras like sauces or squeezing lemon on her food and doesn’t want to miss out on anything we are eating (including tackling lettuce leaves, which rarely make it down her throat, though!)
  • Make sure you still have dining experiences without your little lovelies, as meal time suddenly becomes a lot less relaxing, and much more chaotic! You and your partner need some time to be able to savour your food and each others company at a leisurely pace, at least once a week.
  • Let your little ones get involved in the food preparation and cooking process as early as possible. One of Sophie’s favourite things to do is go out and pick handfuls of mint leaves from the garden for me to use in a meal. She also loves to sit on the kitchen counter and ‘help’ while I am preparing food. I also take her to the farmer’s markets and supermarket as much as possible (and practical) and she loves assisting with putting the food in the trolley.
  • Don’t try and protect your kids from ALL so-called bad foods – there will inevitably come a time when they are exposed to it and the bigger the fuss you make, the more they are going to want it! Just ensure that the majority of their indulgent foods come in the form of beautifully wholesome home baking, rather than processed packets of nutritional emptiness.

I’m excited about sharing my culinary passion with Sophie as she grows, and intend to help her develop her own appreciation for good food, where it comes from and how its prepared. I’m realistic that one day she will come home after a sleep over or  play date and complain about how deprived she has been to have missed out on things like cocoa pops or McDonald’s Happy Meals – but i’ll deal with that when the time comes!

If you want to be inspired about bringing up your kids with a love of good food (even if you haven’t had much success to date), check out Raising Foodies along with this article from Joslyn Taylor (who is sadly no longer writing her blog) and Dash & Bella – both US based blogs, but with much humour and inspiration to be had!

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