5 ways to help keep children happy and healthy in lockdown

Charlotte Stirling-Reed BSc, MSc, RNutr
·3-min read
Photo credit: 10'000 Hours
Photo credit: 10'000 Hours

From Red Online

Lockdown has been tough on us parents. Working, teaching, cooking, cleaning, parenting – you name it; we’ve got all the hats on. So, it’s understandable that you might have lost your mojo when it comes to mealtimes and cooking healthy foods for the kids.

With that in mind, here are some some tips to help you get back into the swing of it, without having to put in a mammoth amount of time or effort.

1/ Eat on the floor

Bear with me – indoor picnics have become a real favourite for my son. It adds a bit of a novelty to mealtimes, which means that there is less pressure and stress when it comes to sitting down to eat together.

2/ Get them to cook the food

Cooking with children can be exhausting, but, if you’re fine with a bit of a mess, it can also be really fun and a nice time to chill, eat and laugh together. Making simple things like energy balls, smoothies, flapjacks or pitta pizzas can be really quick and easy. With older children, you can start to really hand over the responsibility to them when it comes to prepping some meals and snacks.

3/ Make “fridge raid” meals

These have been my saving grace during lockdown and have resulted in some of my (and my son’s!) favourite meals. Simply open the fridge and choose five or so items that need using up and that you can make a “picky” meal or buffet out of. This is quick, simple and helps to reduce food waste. As long as when you do this you have balance in mind (choosing foods from each of the main food groups such as proteins, whole grains, veggies and dairy/alternatives) then this can help save you time and energy while still giving the kids what they need.

4/ Eat together

While it’s easy to snack, skip meals and eat at different times during lockdown when we’re all working from home, it’s actually more important than ever to try to sit together and take some time out over meals. Press the pause button and bring the family together as much as you can. Research actually shows that sitting down and eating together is the best way to encourage good eating habits in your children and this includes those tiny babies, too - so bring them to the table as early as possible and let them learn from watching and joining in the mealtime fun.

Photo credit: VeselovaElena - Getty Images
Photo credit: VeselovaElena - Getty Images

5/ Make mealtimes fun

If meals have become a little tedious then you’re definitely not alone. Try jazzing up mealtimes for the kids with name place settings or fancy table cloths, or try kicking off mealtimes with a game. You could play some of your family’s favourite music at mealtimes or try blindfolded tastes tests before you start. Getting everyone excited for food can help them to eat up, but it can also just make those mealtimes more pleasant, too.

If you’re feeding your baby they will pick up on any atmosphere around the table too if people are anxious and arguing, they won’t see it as such a pleasant place to be. but if mealtimes are fairly light and cheery, they are more likely to want to be involved and see mealtimes as a positive space. I talk more about making mealtimes fun places for babies & young children in my book 'How To Wean Your Baby' out 29 April and available to pre-order now.

'How to Wean Your Baby' is the first book from Charlotte Stirling-Reed the Nutritionist who worked on 'Wean in 15' with Joe Wicks. This book is the ultimate easy weaning plan to ensure your baby becomes a happy and adventurous little eater. Out April 29 and available to pre-order here.

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