A smart mom has come up with a genius hack to get her picky toddler to clear his plate – by turning breakfast into a birthday party.
Megan Stevens, 33, was struck by a flash of inspiration in March when her son Rudi, three, woke up one morning and announced, “It’s my birthday.”
Rather than correcting the boy, who was born on November 19, Megan, who runs a hair salon with her husband, Jamie, 39, took the opportunity to throw a fake party – serving his breakfast on party plates, stringing balloons and decorations and put on festive hats.
Distracted by the razzamatazz, picky eater Rudi happily chewed through a plate of fruit, yogurt, and cereal without murmuring a lament – leading his mother to continue throwing sham parties to make sure he was on a balanced diet.
Concerned that altered routines due to Covid-19 restrictions would encourage his picky eating, Megan, who also has a four-month-old daughter Nola, said: “I thought Rudi’s turmoil was a phase, but the longer it lasted, the more worried I got.
“I was well aware that he was still growing, and wanted him to have a full stomach and enjoy food like he used to.”
‘I can’t say exactly how many mini parties I gave him. I do it about once a week, although it is less common sometimes, ”she continued.
‘He helps me set it up. We take out a special tablecloth, hang up decorations and balloons and eat from party plates. It has also been wonderful to be in lockdown to break boredom. “
As a small toddler, Rudi took over his meals without a fuss, according to Megan, who remembers people saying he was a good eater.
But the older he got, the more picky he got – his tastes were constantly changing, so something he liked one day he would hate the next.
Megan said, “In the last six to eight months it has gotten worse. Strangely enough, Rudi is fine with fruits and vegetables, which are often difficult to get toddlers to eat.
He’s very picky about other things, especially with meat. He will change his mind overnight. One minute he’ll love something, the next he won’t eat it. “
When March’s Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in England, Megan feared the altered routine would make Rudi more restless.
This was a widely shared concern, according to the vitamin and supplement brand Natures Aid, research found that 67 percent of parents were concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their children’s eating habits.
While more than half of moms and dads surveyed have given nutritional supplements to children, many have tried to make eating more fun: 23 percent gave fruits and vegetables silly names and six percent used props, such as dolls, to encourage eating.
Megan said, “The first lockdown threw everyone’s routine out the window.
‘Rudi was from daycare and I was pregnant with Nola, so we were both home all the time. Being pregnant, I was extra careful – I didn’t want to go out unnecessarily for fear of catching Covid.
“As a parent, much of your daily routine revolves around meals, so it was hard to make sure they stayed on schedule. With so much time to think, I began to worry that Rudi would become even more picky. “
She found a unique solution when Rudi incorrectly announced that it was his birthday in March, when she seized the opportunity to make meals more of a celebration.
Megan, who runs a successful Instagram blog about her life as a mother of two, immediately ended the monotony of lockdown by hosting an early morning celebration.
She said, “During lockdown, I was probably more relaxed with Rudi than usual because he didn’t have to go to daycare in the morning, so instead of brushing up on his mistake, I agreed.”
“I have a big box of old party decorations such as balloons, hats, masks, paper plates, cups and a tablecloth that I took out,” she continued.
“I arranged them as a mini party for him, and he absolutely loved it. He ate his breakfast without fuss, which is unusual for him.
“Some mornings he will refuse to eat for centuries, leaving us in the backseat for the rest of the day.”
By making meals fun and distracting Rudi with party favors, according to his mother, he could no longer focus on his food, who said he polished up his breakfast without a struggle.
Realizing that she had found a great way to encourage him to eat a balanced diet, she started throwing him mini breakfast parties more and more.
“On average, I do them about once a week,” she said. “Sometimes Rudi will suggest it and other times I will.”
“The installation doesn’t take long. Luckily he doesn’t judge me on my seating arrangement skills! Megan continued.
‘I sit at his table and we eat together with hats and masks.
“Jamie thought I was upset about keeping all the party supplies, but they came in handy anyway.”
Megan’s unconventional approach to breakfast not only helped overcome little Rudi’s turmoil, but also provided a wonderful experience to gather and create precious memories during the pandemic.
She took to Instagram and shared a few snaps with her 35,000 followers, who loved the idea, and some of them even planned to try it out on their own picky little eaters.
She laughed: “Everyone thought it was really funny, and a lot of mothers wanted to know how I came up with it in the first place. I can’t take the credit because technically it was Rudi’s idea. “
She concluded, “If I had the energy I would love to do the parties for him every day – but this way they don’t lose their novelty. It is a delicious treat for us to enjoy together. “
Jenny Logan, nutritionist at Natures Aid, commented on Megan’s story, “Many parents, like Megan, will have been through a lot of tea time fights with little ones who are selective about what they eat.
“It could be for a variety of reasons, including the color, texture and even the brand of food. Unfortunately, Covid-19’s lockdown measures, which caused a loss of routine for many families, have only exacerbated the situation. Even simple changes, such as eating at different times or randomly snacking throughout the day, can affect eating habits.
“My advice to those struggling parents is to stay positive and continue to develop an arsenal of tricks to entice them into eating and thereby allow them to thrive. It’s important not to force them, but to find ways to make them feel good when trying new flavors, just like Megan has done. She has managed to create a very unique and playful way to get her son engaged and excited for breakfast by throwing fake parties. “
Jenny added, “However, if you don’t find an approach that works, you can be sure that there are many routes for advice; family, friends, child nutritionists or parenting bloggers. It’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all meal method, and what works for some may not work for others, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
“I often recommend bridging the gap between what you want your little ones to eat and what ends up on the floor (or walls) by adding vitamin and mineral drops, such as Natures Aid Mini Drops, to their food or drink. “
Find Megan on Instagram @mamameganstevens