Mellow Mummy: Do Your Children Eat The Same Meals As You? : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 9 May 2011

Do Your Children Eat The Same Meals As You?

This blog post is sponsored by Giraffe Childcare.

Do you eat the same food as your children? Do you share the same mealtimes? We do. If you've read any of my blog posts about weaning you'll know that I feel strongly that children shouldn't be treated any differently than adults at the dinner table and, wherever possible, they should be encouraged to eat the same food as you do. It's not something I'm religious about but I really do think that a love of food, cooking and eating doesn't need to be reserved for grown-ups. Children don't NEED to eat “Children's food” (although I'll admit to serving Lara kiddies food as a special treat on occasion).

When I look back on my own childhood I sometimes question my decision. Some of my fondest memories are of the special feeling of being privileged enough to share a meal with my parents for sunday roasts, or family events. Not until I started college did I regularly share an evening meal with my parents. Perhaps Lara will miss out on that feeling if she eats with us for every meal? Perhaps she's missing out by not getting to eat branded 'children's' food and her childhood friends may think that she's weird as she grows older?

But, the more I think about it, the more I struggle to understand why children are commonly expected to eat differently to us. Different times of day, different foods, different expectations. Admittedly, Lara goes to bed later than many children her age, so she doesn't need to eat earlier than us. We are also in a situation where, given that both parents work, we would never have time to cook a separate meal for Lara even if we wanted to. There are sacrifices we have to make at meal times so that Lara can share with us – a reduction in salt, pepper and chilli are really the only compromises that we still make. But why should Lara not share the same quality of food as us? Why should she not be able to share the pleasure of an amazingly cooked meal with incredible, fresh ingredients?

Which is why, last weekend, Lara sat down to dinner with us and enjoyed a gastronomic extravaganza cooked by the lovely Mr. B.


Pan-friend scallops with a butternut squash purée and a bacon and fennel-seed dust


Slow-roasted Barkham belly of pork served with a celeriac mash, tenderstem broccoli, carrots and an onion and apple gravy


Home-made strawberry ice cream (actually, Lara won't eat ice-cream!), fresh strawberries, blueberries and meringues.


For some reason, this makes me incredibly proud. I'd like to point out that Lara didn't share our bottle of Beaujolais! I wish you could have seen the look on her face as she devoured a scallop for the first time in her life – right then, I knew my decision was right. Lara is enjoying gastronomy at 23 months.

She is still, like many toddlers her age, what I would consider to be a fussy eater; she refuses to eat potato in my presence (but will eat it at nursery) and screams if anyone so much as whispers the word 'yoghurt'. However, I like to feel that Lara has a wider repertoire of foods than most toddlers so if she finds two or three things she doesn't fancy eating right now then there are plenty of other things to choose from. I'm hoping that the yoghurt fear will sort itself out given time, and I'm aware that over the years Lara will go through fussy periods. In general I'm astonishingly proud of her appetite and adventurousness when it comes to food. She's my superstar.
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