A nanny who trained at the prestigious Norland College has shared her tips to deal with fussy eaters.
Louenna Hood, 36, from Suffolk, graduated from the famous Bath school in 2005 and has worked with many high profile families since.
The highly-reputable institution has supplied childcare services to the likes of Mick Jagger and, most famously, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who hired Maria Borrallo to help look after Prince George, seven, when he was eight months old. She now cares for Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, too.
Like other nannies coming from the academy, Louenne was trained in several disciplines, including high-speed driving to avoid paparazzi, martial arts to defend against kidnappers and classical skills such as cooking.
Louenna Hood, 36, from Suffolk, graduated from the famous Norland College nanny school in 2005 and has worked with many high profile families since She gives her tips to make meal times a piece of cake for parents of fussy eaters
The nanny and maternity nurse has just launched a new app to help parents across the globe look after their children, after years of experience taking care of the offspring of high society.
Here she gives her best tips to deal with fussy eaters, starting with weaning and tricks to use on older kids.
START AT WEANING
‘A good relationship with food begins during weaning,’ Louenna explained.
‘Wean your baby using home-cooked food, and let them enjoy new tastes and textures, during the six to twelve month taste window when babies’ taste buds are more accepting of new flavours.’
MAKE MEAL TIME SPECIAL
Louenna stressed the importance of eating at the same time as your child.
‘f you sit there watching your child eat with nothing to do yourself, it creates massive pressure on them and increases your anxiety,’ she said.
‘If they see the adults around them eating the same foods it will encourage them to try different things,’ she added.
‘If possible, sit around a table so that you face each other when eating, and don’t have distractions around the room that children may want to get down and see.’
Norland Nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo with the Queen and Prince George, then two, at the Christening of Princess Charlotte in 2015
GET THEM INVOLVED
‘Get your child to help in the kitchen. They love to eat fresh food that they have prepared,’ Louenna said.
The Norland nanny explained that some children can feel overwhelmed by big food portions.
‘Offer small manageable portions so your child isn’t put off or overwhelmed. Make sure your child isn’t overtired or hungry when they sit down to eat,’ she said.
DON’T GET FRUSTRATED
Many parents dealing with fussy children will know how frustrating meal times can be.
‘Don’t let meal times become a battle,’ Louenna advised. If they feel you getting frustrated, it will fuel them to create more of a fuss.
‘Keep your voice calm and controlled and tell them to try and eat what they can. Explain there won’t be any snacks until the next meal.’
DON’T MAKE DIFFERENT MEALS
While some might be tempted to serve their children different meals to avoid tantrums, Louenna explained why it’s not advisable.
‘Don’t make different meals for each child, they shouldn’t dictate what they fancy at each meal time,’ she said.
‘Try to accommodate everyone’s tastes as much as possible to make mealtimes enjoyable, but don’t feel guilty if one of your children isn’t keen on every single meal you cook – that’s life! It’s important they learn to cope with not loving everything they eat,’ she explained.
Louenna, here in the Norland College uniform, advised parents to eat at the same time as their children and to try not to get frustrated
LET THEM HELP THEMSELVES TO VEGGIES
Preparing side bowls of vegetable is the best way to facilitate meal times, Louenna said.
‘Have a little crudités plate or a bowl of some chopped vegetables or salad in the middle for your child to help themselves,’ she advised.
‘Children love the independence of serving themselves,’ she explained.
SET SOME RULES
Setting some rules is a good way to get your child to taste more things, Louenna said.
‘Set some simple rules. My two most important rules would be that children always have to try everything, even if it’s just one bite,’ she said.
‘Then after tasting it, if they don’t like it we don’t make a fuss we just leave it to the side of the plate.’
She added: ‘My other rule is that you can’t leave the table unless others have finished.
The nanny has worked with many high profile families since graduating from Norland in 2005. She’s now released an app dispensing advice to parents
‘Sometimes children get a second wind after a break, so if they say they have finished they have to sit still and join in the conversation.
‘I often find, toddlers say they’re ‘finished’ because they’d like to get down and play, rather than because they are full. So by asking them to wait for everyone else to finish, they’ll often clear the plate,’ she explained.
GET CREATIVE WITH CHICKEN AND POTATOES
Some ingredients are more difficult for children to eat, and getting creative during cooking is a good way to avoid dinner meltdowns.
‘Chicken is often difficult for toddlers to chew, as it just goes round and round in their mouths,’ Louenna explained.
‘Try poaching the chicken in water or stock so it’s nice and moist, then cutting it into little pieces and adding a sauce,’ she said.
‘Another great way for toddlers to enjoy chicken is blending it in to meatballs or burgers,’ she added.
Some treats like mashed potatoes can also be a challenge.
‘This is the only food I add salt to when I cook for children,’ Louenna admitted.
‘I add butter, salt and a little milk when the draining potatoes are steaming hot and spend time making sure there aren’t any lumps before serving it nice and hot,’ she added.
BLEND VEGETABLES IN SAUCES
Some fussy eaters will always resist vegetables, but Louenna shared some ways to trick them into eating those as well.
‘If your children absolutely refuses to eat vegetables, try blending steamed vegetable and adding them to sauces,’ she said.
‘Recipe ideas include macaroni cheese with hidden cauliflower, butternut squash and carrots / tomato pasta sauce filled with hidden vegetables / homemade burgers with grated apple, carrot, courgette, red pepper and onion,’ she added.
‘Smoothies and ice lollies are brilliant for getting children to eat fruit and vegetables,’ she said.