Children love to be little helpers. There are many fun food activities you, your toddler or preschooler, and older children can do together.
Sandwich or pancake/waffle shapes not only make breakfast and lunch appealing by focusing on the child, your child can help. After you make pancakes or waffles, give your child cookie cutters and helping them place the cookie cutter on the pancakes, have them press the cookie cutter through the food item and let them place their shapes on a plate before adding butter and syrup.
To teach your children how to eat healthy you can slice fresh fruit for them to put on the pancake shapes instead. You can let them add a dollop of fat free whipped topping, as well.
Children, even toddlers, can crack and open eggs into a bowl for omelets, desert items, and scrambling. For toddlers you may have to help them out. Let them hold the eggs with you only holding their hands to assist.
For omelets or loaded scrambled eggs dice or slice the items to go into the eggs in the bowl, whether that is vegetables, grated cheese, mushrooms, diced ham or bacon, etc. Afterwards, let them stir the eggs.
Cheese or peanut and butter sandwiches are a lunch option. Let children cut shapes out of the sandwich, placing the cookie cutter on the sandwich multiple times and close together so little food will be wasted.
Children can make English muffin pizzas, as well. Put the pizza toppings and sauce out on a table or kitchen cupboard if you have a step stool for your little people. Let them place a spoon of pizza sauce on an English muffin along with pepperoni, vegetables, cheese, mushrooms or any combination of items you choose.
For a healthier mini pizza you could just put out vegetables, mushrooms, and cheese. It is good to encourage your child to make and eat healthy items.
Microwave the mini pizza on a microwave safe plate for your child in increments of thirty seconds. When you take the English muffin pizza out, make sure it is not too hot before giving it to your child to eat.
Give your child slices of cheese and let them make their own cheese sandwich. For toddlers and preschool age children you can teach them their shapes by using sandwiches, cutting them into small triangles, squares, and rectangles and repeating what each shape is. Then begin asking them what each shape is.
Or show them how to fold cheese to put on saltine crackers for a healthy snack. But the key is still to let them do most, or all, of the food activity with you helping them or supervising.
For snacks you can put corn or rice cereal that is in small flakes or puffs on a plate and let your child roll bananas in them before eating them, or roll apple slices in powdered jello after you have peeled, cored, and sliced the fruit. This food activity works for breakfast, as well.
Pineapple slices and fruit cocktail can be used to create a healthy and fun snack, desert, or even breakfast. Open a can of fruit cocktail and a can of pineapple slices, preferably the no sugar added or lite canned fruit.
Drain the pineapple juice into one cup and the cocktail juice into another for drinking. Remove the fruit and fruit pieces from the can, placing the pineapple and fruit cocktail in separate bowls.
Give your child a saucer or plate. Let them place a pineapple slice on the plate and, making one for yourself first or while your child is making theirs, illustrate how to decorate the saucer by placing the peach and pear cubes, and the grapes from the fruit cocktail in and around the pineapple slice. Then you can sit together and eat your creations.
For older children, if they do not have a peanut allergy, peel and core an apple and let them fill the center with peanut butter.
Note: Children under five should not have a peanut butter filled apple and peanut butter sandwiches should only have a very thin layer of peanut butter as peanut butter has a tendency to cake in the roof of the mouth and stick to the inside of the cheeks and tongue. Peanut butter is a choking hazard for children under 2.
If you give your children yogurt, consider purchasing unflavored yogurt. Chop or dice fresh fruit, or thaw out and drain frozen fruit that your child likes. Leg them add the fruit that they like to their individual container of yogurt or yogurt put in a small cereal bowl if you purchase the large tub of yogurt and let them mix it up.
Your child, even as a toddler, can stir cookie batter before the flour is added. The flour will probably make the batter too stiff. Then give them a tablespoon so they can scoop batter and put it on the cookie sheet for baking. Tip: Larger cookies are ideal for decorating.
After the cookies are done give your child cherries, nuts, sprinkles, raisins, etc. to put on top. They could, for instance make a face, using raisins for eyes, a maraschino cherry for a nose, nuts or chocolate chips for a mouth and eyebrows, etc. For even more fun, encourage them to give their cookie people a name. Younger children may decide to name their cookies after a family member or themselves.
Food activities give you and your child an opportunity to work and play together, and provide an opportunity for you to teach your children, at any age, about nutrition, shapes, colors, etc. And it makes eating fun. Your can use the tips provided here to create your own fun food activities for you and your child to do together. This is difficult for many working parents but you can always schedule fun food activities for weekends and other days off.
You might take a picture of the food creations and put them in a photo album, to send to relatives, and to put on the fridge. This will make your child feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, which is good for their self esteem. Or have another family member take a picture of you and your child engaged in a fun food activity. Children love pictures of themselves with mom, dad, grandparents, and siblings.