It started innocently enough.
I was feeling silly one night and added a fruit and sunflower seed face to my daughter’s yogurt. Then
I arranged her mandarin oranges into to the shape of a flower. It was very well received by her, and
before I knew it, I was spelling out words in cheese, and crafting Santa hats out of fruit roll ups.
Yep. Despite the fact that I try my best to teach her proper manners, I play with my kid’s food.
I doctor up yogurt with sprinkles, strategically arrange blueberries, and can’t just leave a plain sandwich alone. Ok, I can, but it’s hard! Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to eat as a butterfly, kitty, or turtle? You CAN’T TELL ME it wouldn’t be! Ahem…
My 3 year old daughter is actually a great eater. I don’t have to dress up her food in an attempt to bribe her to eat better. After seeing some of the struggles some of my friends have gone through with their little ones, I know we’re lucky that she eats well. So, I do it because it’s fun. It shows her I love her (in case the hundreds of snuggles and kisses I force on her each day to don’t do the trick…hehe), and seeing her reaction to my newest creation is just fun for me. In all honesty, I probably get more a kick out of it than she does.
That being said, it would be a great way to help encourage a picky eater to try new things! I know (even though I can certainly enjoy a sandwich that doesn’t look like a smiling beagle) that when my food is visually appealing, I am more excited to eat it! Transfer this idea into kid terms, and watch them gobble up that choo-choo train quesadilla or that butterfly made of mini waffles.
People’s responses to my food play habit have ranged from “How cute!” to “must be nice to have that kind of time!” I work full time, and my days are just as rushed as the next gal’s, so I assure you that free time does not run rampant in my house! In fact, can I tell you how uncanny it is that every.single.night by the time I finally feel I can sit down and breathe, it is 10:00??? Can someone please explain that phenomenon to me? But I digress… But long story short, I do not do this every day (probably aboutonce a week on average), and I really only spend a few extra minutes on it. I’ll usually already have an idea in mind, and just run with it.
Some tricks and tools of the “trade”:
-Cookie cutters –No, I do not have time to painstakingly cut that piece of cheese into the shape of a
capital “J” with embroidery scissors. THAT would be crazy. ;-) Cookie cutters make it quick and easy. I pick them up as I see them, and can often find them at the Dollar Store, or online for cheap. I love my alphabet set now that my daughter is recognizing letters, and my graduated circle set is great for all kinds of things. I found both on Amazon. I’ve got a bunch of flowers, stars, animals, holiday themed ones--you name it. Just cutting a PB&J sandwich into a cute shape makes it more fun!
-Sprinkles!—I have a bit of a sprinkle addiction. I have them for every season, in all sorts of colors and varieties. I have heart shaped ones, and Easter Eggs, and holly leaves & berries, and pumpkins (and plenty more). But lately my little diva gets upset when there are no blue ones (because she’s 3 and has to be argumentative about SOMETHING!) So we love just the regular multicolor ones from the grocery store the most. They quickly dress up yogurt, applesauce, and all sorts of things. I put them on scrambled eggs occasionally--which to me, sounds disgusting. But the kid loves it.
-Use pre-prepared foods—My child prefers frozen waffles and pancakes over those that I spend hours (ok, probably minutes) at the waffle iron slaving over. So, I just buy ‘em . That Aunt Jemima knows what she’s doing! Nuke them for 15 seconds, and they’re a blank canvas. (Wow, that sounded ridiculous. ) Or, you could always make a batch when you have free time and freeze them. But I’m all for easy. I am not a fantastic cook (not awful, just nothing special), and always seek time-saving measures when it comes to cooking.
-Make it colorful!—we buy a lot of fresh fruit, and not only is it healthy, but it makes a prettier plate!
I will usually include a couple of bites of several different kinds to make it more colorful. Different
cheeses, fruit leather, and spinach or tomato tortillas are also great ways to add color. Oh, and sprinkles again. Also, I like to use colorful plastic plates and other special kid sized dishes.
On days that I don’t make a “scene” or some kind of character, I do try to make a point to arrange her food nicely. It might sound silly, but I feel like it makes a difference.
You can find some of my creations here. I hope I’ve inspired you to go play with your food!
Be sure to come back tomorrow, we'll be talking about eating out with toddlers and I'll have a great giveaway! To see all of the other post from this week -