Enjoying the chaos of family style meals

by Meri on March 2, 2012

My triplets started eating solid foods around 6 months old and soon were picking up finger foods with confidence and excitement. I would say things went fairly smoothly until they hit their first birthday. Suddenly, Tiny stopped eating a large variety of foods and Mr. began being more particular with how things looked on his plate. Birdie is still as adventurous as she used to be, but does have her favorites. As most moms do, I would plate their food and place it in front of them making sure there was a good variety so they can try new foods and also have some of their favorite standbys. When they hit their second birthday I was still plating their foods and it didn’t even dawn on me that having family style meals might help them to feel like they have more control and choices with their meals. I am a firm believer in family style vs. plating for older kids…I just thought 2 years old might be too young.

Thanks to my colleague, Jill Castle, I found her blog post, Confessions from a Reformed Food Plater, and I had a little light bulb moment. That night I started to put their food out in bowls in the middle of the table and allowed them to choose and practice using a spoon to dish out their own foods. What I’ve found is my pickiest eater, Tiny, tries far more foods than she used to. Most of the time she still won’t eat them, but just her trying foods is a big win. Family style probably made the biggest impact on Mr. since he can direct where he wants things on his plate and has an easier time letting me know if he wants more of one thing.

My opinion is allowing kids to choose and serve their foods (with assistance of course) can help with even the pickiest eaters and provides an environment where kids are more willing to try new foods. It also makes meal time more fun. They get excited to see what’s on the table and love spooning things onto their plates. A little too much sometimes, Birdie always thinks it’s fair game to spoon the entire bowl of black olives onto her plate so yes, some monitoring is still needed!

Still plating at 2-years old? Try something different tonight!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Esther March 3, 2012 at 3:34 am

I LOVE your blog, and healthy eating for the babies! I was told it couldn’t be done, but my 9 months old triplets eat quinoa, tofu, spinach, legumes, ect..I love what you feed the kiddos, and am following your every step! I will keep in mind the family-style eating for the future! Thanks, Meri!

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Meri March 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thanks Esther! That’s great…mine went quickly to finger foods as well. I loved the early stages of them exploring foods.

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Florence Brown March 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi, was just going through the google looking for good info and stumbled across your website. I am stunned at the design that you’ve on this site. It shows how you appreciate this subject.

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Meri March 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thanks Florence!

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Dina March 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

This is a great idea. I’m going to try it when J gets a little older. Sounds like fun for the big kids, too. Thanks Meri!

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