This 1 rule can change your family mealtimes forever!
It's a familiar scene to many of us: We spend time preparing and cooking a delicious, nutritious meal, gather the family around the table, expectations high, only to be met with blank stares (at best) or exclamations of horror at the audacity you must have to expect your family to actually EAT the meal. The nerve, right?
But, there's nothing you can do, right? Wrong. There is one small change you can make to your mealtime routine that will, slowly but surely, start to turn things around. I am a firm believe in this.
As soon as your children are eating regular meals with you (in other words, as soon as they are weaned off of baby food/formula/purees/breastmilk and are subsisting mostly on solid, real food, institute the One Bite Rule. Even if your kids are way beyond the first foods phase, it's never to late to start this process. Whatever you put on their plates, no matter what, they are required to take one bite, and only one bite, of every item on their plates.
Don't leave me yet. Stay with me.
Yes, you will be met with cries of "But I don't liiiiiiikkkkeeee thaaaaat!" but be persistent. Insist that they try one bite of everything. Now, there are a couple of keys to the success of this plan:
Tell your child about this new plan BEFORE meal time. It isn't fair to spring this on them when they sit down to a meal. Let them know that this will be the new expectation going forward.
Stick to the one bite rule. If they want to take a second bite, that's up to them. Stick to your end of the bargain and don't try to goad them into trying a second bite. One bite is the rule, the rest is up to them, not you. Once they learn to trust that you really mean one bite, the risk won't seem so big.
Offer things you know they like. Let's say you know your child loves mashed potatoes and plain roasted chicken (no gravy, for goodness sake!). When you prepare your chicken dinner, ensure those two things are on the plate. Then add in 1 or 2 things you have not served before, or that your child has previously rejected (peas and green beans, for example). That way, once the mandatory bites have been taken, you know there are things on the plate your child will eat.
Yes, this plan will take time and you will likely encounter lots of resistance at first. But if you stand your ground and make this the new normal, it won't be too long before your child automatically takes the one bite of everything on his plate, and finding some new tastes to love.