Just one bite… please? Mums and dads, how often do you feel frustrated with your fussy little one, trying to feed them a meal? We know that children can be fussy eaters — and it’s a constant battle of wills. Perhaps you’ve exhausted all means, including coming up with creative breakfast ideas for toddlers. But before you lose all faith, meet this Chinese dad who takes creativity to a whole new level.
Creative Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers: How It All Started for This Dad
A typical breakfast Wang Chendong prepares for his wife and 12-year-old daughter | Source: Screengrab from South China Morning Post
Wang, a technician at a printing factory in Jiangsu province, China, makes an intricate spread for breakfast every morning for his family before he goes to work, according to the South China Morning Post.
The 35-year-old’s colourful dishes include images of animals, flowers and cartoon characters.
The meal that Wang prepares for his wife, Li Yingying, and 12-year-old daughter, Mengjie, is not only appealing but also nutritious. They contain dishes made with wheat flour, coarse cereals, vegetables, fruit, eggs, plus porridge or soybean milk.
He started cooking breakfast daily five years ago when his daughter began to attend primary school.
“When my daughter began to go to primary school five years ago, I realised it was important for her to have a proper breakfast,” Wang said.
Despite him having no knowledge of cooking and never having cooked a meal before, Wang wanted to prepare breakfast as he wanted to demonstrate his duty and responsibility as a father.
It is his way to “make compensations” to his daughter before her school started where he was so busy working and had spent little time with her.
“Them eating happily is the biggest reward for me,” said Wang. | Source: screengrab from South China Morning Post
To perform this duty well, Wang even bought kitchen ware like frying pans, books on nutrition and also joined online cooking chat groups.
Creature of Habit Turned Hobbyist
Wang would get up at 5.10am every day and proceed to prepare breakfast at 5.30am, after his exercises.
To keep things interesting for his daughter, Wang often includes cartoon images of animals and flowers. Sometimes, he creates dishes to represent themes, such as the World Cup, Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day and the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.
The family sits down to eat together and finish the meal in about 15 minutes. | Source: screengrab from South China Morning Post
Leading by Example: What We All Can Learn
After their breakfast, which usually lasts about 15 minutes, Wang washes the bowls and tidies up the table before leaving for work at 7.15am.
Wang said he did not consider preparing breakfast a burden; instead, he loved it.
The family sometimes even discusses what they would like to eat the following morning, and the images they would like to see displayed on their food. Mengjie also helps her father prepare.
Wang says that the daily routine had brought benefits for himself and his family such as seeing an improvement in their health. His stomach problem has disappeared after having regular and healthy breakfasts.
“It’s also a good way for my family to communicate among ourselves,” he added.
Both Wang’s wife and daughter appreciates what he does for the family.
Creative breakfast ideas for toddlers: “My daughter is shy and rarely says words like ‘thank you, father’ to me,” Wang said. “But I know she often shows what her breakfast looked like that day to her classmates.” | Source: screengrab from South China Morning Post
Wang believes that what he has been doing will set a positive example for his family.
Mums and dads, are you inspired by this dad yet? Perhaps it’s time to take it up a notch and see where your creativity skills can take you. It definitely isn’t easy for this working dad who endured multiple failures at the start. But if he can do it, we’re sure you can too! If all else fails with your fussy eater, at least you can say that you’ve tried.
Tips for Creative Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers Packed with Nutrition
1. Colour is key
Try and make foods out of the colours of a rainbow using fruits and veggies. See who consumes the most fruits according to the colours of the rainbow!
2. Plate or serve them differently
Usually, we’d just think of laying the foods on a plate. But what if we could arrange the foods through a kebab-style? Or giving them the “fine-dining” experience by setting up the table a little differently? Furthermore, kids like to dip their foods, so you can experiment by mixing little chunks or bits of food into those to slowly test the waters!
3. Incorporate learning into mealtimes
Perhaps your little one has a certain interest towards a particular activity or cartoon. What’s their current favourite thing that they can’t stop talking about? Incorporate that into meal times. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even stacking some foods to make it look somewhat like the game, jenga, can work to your advantage.
4. Let your kids name ’em
It can be a fun activity for kids to name the various kind of foods or particular veggies or fruits. Let them be as creative as they want.
How to Get the Little Ones to Actually Eat
Around 85 per cent of parents believe that their children are fussy eaters, according to a study by YouGov Galaxy Research.
But sometimes, it isn’t about the food itself. It might surprise you but this may be linked to your kids wanting to be independent. It is all part of your child’s development — a way of exploring their environment and asserting their independence. If you’ve no clue how, here are some ideas you can consider:
- Pair new foods with old favourites.
- Do let your children see that you enjoy eating healthy meals.
- Get your children involved in the preparation process (picking a recipe, washing the fruits and veggies, etc).
- Don’t fuss about the little things like spillage of food or drinks made by your child — make it a happy, social and stress-free occasion for them.
- Have structured meal times and don’t rush them to eat.
- Adapt to your child’s eating habits — they eat differently from adults.
- Offer them a variety of foods, let them choose what they want to eat and how much (the more variety you have, the higher chances they are to pick something that they might not choose to eat from the start).
Pro tip: Amongst the huge selection, ask them to choose between two to three items so as not to overwhelm them.
- If your child is fussing over food, try not to focus on that as the attention would lead to your child fussing more.
- Set a time limit of 20 – 30 minutes. If food is uneaten, take it away.
- Invite other children whom you know that eat healthily. Experiments show that children are more likely to copy their peers at the dining table.
Pro tip: Have your toddler do something calming or have some quiet moments before meals, such as hand-washing to help settle them down. This may help if they tend to be too distracted to sit at the family table.
Food for Thought…
As much as there are so many tips and tricks out there to help you cope with fussy eaters, each child is different. Always take it slow and identify what works and what doesn’t for them. There are many other opportunities for them to try the various foods you have in mind, so take it easy mums and dads!
We hope these creative breakfast ideas for toddlers and tips to getting your little ones to eat will help you cope with your fussy little ones 🙂
Source: The South China Morning Post, YouGov Galaxy Research
Also read: Healthy eating tips for picky eaters