Small Talk




We asked mother, former Harrods buyer and founder of the  family food blog Mimi’s Bowl Miriam Cooper to give her guide to mealtimes without the meltdowns


As a working mum, with a three-year-old daughter, I empathise with the pressure every parent feels to get your child eating well. We are often under immense time-constraints as parents to make home cooked food from scratch. Parents regularly write to me and describe the guilt they feel about their children’s diets: they want them to be eating healthily but don’t know where to begin. Complicated recipes and seasonal eating lists seem intimidating and totally at odds with the reality of family cooking.

Nothing prepares you for the determined rejection of your child when they repulse at the sight of food you have made for them. In the early days of weaning with my own daughter I made the mistake of “batch cooking” vast quantities of lentils and dutifully froze them: only to find out she hated the stew and subsequent puree. No amount of disguising it would persuade her to even take one mouthful. I am sure many of you will have similar versions of this story to recount through gritted teeth. Truly, one can’t help but feel discouraged after slaving over a meal to have it spat out, or chucked on the floor. I would challenge any Michelin star chef not to quake at the very thought of a toddler diner, sitting at their table.

So, how can we as parents encourage our children to love food and eat well? Here is some of what I have learnt along the way, based on my own experiences as a parent:


1. Eat together as a family when you can.

2. Make meal times relaxed and enjoyable: never make food a battle ground.

3. Give your child enough time to eat and enjoy their food.

4. Offer variety, or the same foods prepared in different ways: to encourage your child’s confidence in trying new foods.

5. Plan weekly meals to take the stress out of last-minute meal decisions. With older children, this might be something you are able to do together, allow them to include one of their favourite meals each week.

6. Keep it simple: find easy recipes that work for your whole family.

7. Eat the rainbow: the easiest visual reminder to include lots of portions of fruit and vegetables in your family’s diet. For babies and toddlers declare fruit and vegetables; don’t begin on the premise that they will hate all fresh produce.

8. Get your children involved in shopping: talk about food and where it comes from, start a conversation around food.

9. Find time on the weekends to cook together and make food fun.

10. Stay calm and don’t give into “baby food panic”: one bad mealtime, or rejected dish, is just one set back.  Try the same food again in a few weeks’ time and move on.

The Mimi's Bowl top buys for mealtimes:

I love Avanchy’s bamboo bowls and spoons, they have also just launched a brilliant range of stainless steel suction bowls with lids: great for travel and leftovers.”

— Suction bowl, £19.99, Avanchy

Buy now

Oogaa's train, truck and aeroplane spoons make eating that bit more fun - they're great for feeding their imaginations too.”

— Silicone spoon, £7, Oogaa

Buy now

I swear by Baby Bjorn’s long-sleeve bibs, I still use them now and my daughter is three-years-old. They are great quality and suitable from eight months.”

— Long-sleeve bib, £17.99, Baby Bjorn

Buy now

“Children's brand Oskoe is so stylish it would make any mealtime a treat: I particularly love their FiliBabba bamboo sets and the KG Design cloud placemats.”

— Filibabba bamboo set, £28, mat, £12.50, Oskoe

Buy now

The Mimi’s Bowl recipe recommendation:

The healthy meal that children devour

Click here