Like many parents, we have had our fair share of food-battles with our toddler. She eats certain foods (mostly healthy: apple, yoghurt, cheese, spag. bol, mac. cheese, toast, rice cakes, etc) but will not try others. She just. Will. Not.
So, we've been implementing new strategies to get her to eat a wider variety of foods (most of which seem to be working), and one of them was to create a shelf for her in the pantry where she can prepare her own snacks. I based my version on this one I saw at How We Montessori.
I set this area up for her while she had her afternoon nap, and when she saw it - instant love! She wouldn't come out of the pantry. She wanted to eat dinner in there, and she wanted Daddy to play in there with her when he got home from work!
As you can see above, she has space for storing her plates/bowls, rice cakes and cruskits are stored in easy-to-open airtight containers, a sampling of fruit is on her own little wooden platter, and in the white tubs are snacks for when we go out. Living between 45 minutes and 1 hour 15 minutes away from our family and most of our friends means that we're on the road a lot. Although it is not ideal, there are times when Eden's morning/afternoon tea has to happen in the car. So, these 'car snacks' (like little biccies) are sorted into portion size and stored in ziplock bags which allows her to pack her own travel-food.
There is a 'drinks station' as you can see above, which allows her to pour her own water (we don't do cordial and juice is an occasional treat). Pouring is an important skill for toddlers to develop, and I swear, I have never seen my child drink so much water...because the more she drinks, the more she gets to pour! I nabbed the jug for her at IKEA, it's enamel, child-sized and has a nice feel to it - way better than plastic.
The last little 'zone' on her shelf houses a chopping board, Dettol hand sanitiser (clean hands when preparing food, please!), and our placemats and serviettes/napkins so she can set the table for the family. There's also some cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of diluted white vinegar so she can clean up after herself. Honestly, sometimes I think that Eden makes a mess just so she can clean it up. Besides which, when she's not looking I go in and make sure the board is cleaned properly, but shhhh! Don't tell her!
All of these things are designed to give Eden more independence, more control and more involvement in her meals, and thus far the results have been fantastic! Straight away, she wanted to peel a banana and chop it up (she hasn't eaten banana since she was about 18 months old!), and when she did she served it onto two plates, gave some to Ava and ATE THE MAJORITY HERSELF!!!! VICTORY!!!!
Since I set this space up (about 3 days ago) she has not only eaten banana every day, but she's also started eating tuna, grapes, and fish fillet in a cheese sauce. Without any struggles or objections. That may not sound like much, but for us that's a big improvement. I'm very excited to see if I can introduce her to some more yummy foods, and I'm looking into colouring food picks, small silicone containers and creative use of cookie cutters to make food look more appetising. Wish us luck!
Thanks for reading! ~ L.