The French are really serious about getting their kids to appreciate all kinds of different tastes. The framework of developing childrens’ good eating habits is put together on a national level in the Ministry of Education!
The French believe that the ability to appreciate different flavors, to differentiate them and to talk about the sensations they arise can (and should) be learned and cultivated.
At lunchtime all schools in France offer warm meals. As said on the French Ministry of Education’s homepage: “School plays an important role in awakening to tastes. It enhances the culinary heritage and promotes products of good taste and nutritional quality. Taste is learned, educated, acquired over time. Having fun also means taking your time and knowing how to choose.”
In the beginning of September I was given a booklet at my younger kids’ (a two-year-old and a seven-month-old) daycare center. It was a guide provided by the daycare catering service in order to help parents ingrain good eating habits in their children.
This guide brought up ten rules that will ensure a peaceful and serene mealtime where kids are available and ready to get to know new ingredients and new tastes. Here they are:
The 10 Golden Rules for a Successful Meal:
- The child shows that he is hungry.
- He is available for the meal: clean nappy, not ill etc.
- He is sitting at the table
- My phone is far away, so are his toys and nobody is shouting nearby.
- There are real plates on the table: if they only use plastic, how will they learn that things break?
- The child has a colorful plate or a drawing made in his purée.
- I taste part of his little meal to share the moment with him.
- The child has one or two spoons and I have another one to help him out.
- I let him start by dessert or mix his purée with yogurt if he wants to experiment.
- I do not force him and I stay zen: I love feeding my baby!
The main idea in all of the booklet was to be present for your child and eliminate distractions in order to help him experience serenely the different tastes of this world.
It is really just common sense to follow these guidelines, but it is nice to have a reminder from time to time. Well with 4 under-six-year-old kids in the same room at the same time, the “nobody shouting nearby” is not entirely doable in our house…
Also, we do not have real plates for the two-year-old yet. He has somehow taken on viking habits lately. Meaning that showing his appreciation of the meal consists of him throwing his plate on the floor with all his might. Sooo no breakable plates near this one at the moment.
I hope you got some inspiration from this article. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about new blog posts and follow me on Instagram for everyday tips and recipe ideas.
If you want more snacking inspiration go check out my list of 30 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids so that you never run out of healthy snacks to serve!