Entertaining Children to Eat

 

I came across this product while at a local party store looking for some balloons.

There are three ways I can look at it.

 

  1. Humorous. This is just a silly plate to add fun to mealtime.
  2. Enticing. This fun and interactive plate is a way to get children to eat when they otherwise might not.
  3. Wasteful. This is a silly plate that will probably only used by the children (or as a last resort plate if the others aren’t clean) for a little while. It will also likely take attention away from the food. I can imagine Greysen dumping everything onto the table to marvel at this lady and gentleman.

 

Can you guess, which perspective I took?

 

It has been my experience, that our society at large treats¬† children as though they need to be entertained . . . at all times. From toothpaste packaging, to diapers, to cherry-flavored medicine, children are being inundated with the message that everything they do or eat can be “fun”. Does that lead them to expect that everything should be fun?

 

One way many of us avoid this is by making simpler, natural choices such as cloth diapers and homeopathic remedies, but despite avoiding all of these choices, I find that we are still affected by the image of the child this portrays. Adults interact with my children with the expectation that entertainment is not just what they want, but what they need.

 

I see lots of encouragement for parents to make food fun. I won’t pretend to understand the motivation behind this. Food should be eaten because your body needs the nutrition. We need food for strength, to feel healthy, and let’s not forget that it’s delicious. Does upping the entertainment factor of food change the message children receive and change their expectations about why they should eat?¬† I’m not sure.

 

Cutting sandwiches into bat-shaped pieces seems to be a roundabout way to “get” children to eat foods. To me it says, I don’t expect you to eat your food the way I do, so I will make it fun so that you will try it.

 

How are children going to make healthy choices when we are not around if we are contributing to the idea that the most entertaining food is the best? Appearances are indeed important to our appetites. Beautiful food is appetizing. My question is, if we set the expectation for fun-colored drinks and dino-shaped pasta as the standard, how will this affect their choices as they grow?

 

Did you eat fun foods as a child? How did your childhood meal experiences affect your affinity for certain types of foods?

 

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