A Parenting Guide for Non Parents – Food

I got inspired to write this post when for the millionth time a stranger gave my daughter chocolate. While I expressed gratitude for his generosity I felt frustrated at his thoughtlessness. While I was writing this post in the airplane, another stranger gave my daughter a crisp! “Why give someone else’s kid junk food!!!!” So I’ve finally decided to do something about this. But this post is not just about chocolate or about non-parents. It’s about providing useful tips on interactions with kids that are not yours.

Food

A few years back, before we had a kid of our own, my husband and I invited a couple over for lunch. They had a two-year old then. We remember being unsure about what to prepare for the kid. We finally decided that pizza was a safe choice – after all, all kids like pizza. As a mum now I realise that wasn’t a good decision then and not all kids like pizza. So if you are inviting someone else’s kid for a meal, this is what I recommend.

1. Ask the parents whether the kid has any dietary constraints. Allergies among kids are common these days and so this is good to know when you are preparing food for them. It is also a polite way of asking the parents what to make for their kid. Your work could also get easier if the parents respond with either of the following ‘she’ll eat whatever we do.’ OR ‘don’t worry we’ll bring her food’

2. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the parents or if you do and they don’t provide helpful feedback then there are some low effort options (not much preparation time) that are healthy for a child and consider common allergies. These are also things the parents will partake as healthy starters, so it’s hard to go wrong with them.

Quick Healthy Foods for Kids

Quick Healthy Foods for Kids

Carrot and Cucumber sticks – wash well and cut these into long strips. (They do not need to be peeled unless there are too many roots coming out of the carrot skin).

Hummus dip and bread sticks – get the plain flavoured bread sticks. Many young kids reject strong flavours. Also hummus is a great source of protein and works well with the carrot sticks too.

Cheese sticks are a store bought, very low effort offering for kids. They are good source of calcium and fat for young ones, and make easy finger food. Always buy full fat versions and check with the parents for lactose intolerance before serving. This is always something you can use later for pizza, lasagna etc. if the kid doesn’t eat it.

Fresh fruits – most kids will enjoy bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, pineapples etc. (the sweet fruits) especially if arranged on a barbecue stick. These also make great healthy desserts for the little ones. If that is too much effort you can also cut these in slices or rings for easy eating. Keep apple slices thin for younger kids. For even lower effort, keep the uncut fruits in a fruit plate and ask your young guest what they’d like to eat when they arrive. Toddlers love making decisions and showing independence. My two-year old gets a lot of joy from peeling her own oranges and bananas.

Yogurts are also a good source of fat and calcium for young kids. Again full fat is better than the low fat recommended for adults. The large Tesco, M&S or Waitrose stock special kid-sized yogurt pots. You’ll get extra brownie points if you are able to find the sugar free ones – Yeo Valley does these. These don’t use sugar substitutes, but fruit purees to sweeten the yogurt. (Check again for lactose intolerence)

Bread – most kids eat some form of bread. So keeping some in the house will also give you the option to serve it by itself, as plain toast, cheese toast, a sandwich with peanut butter, cream cheese, or whatever else the parent suggests and you have stocked in your kitchen. If you have cookie cutters at home, you’ll get extra brownie points if you use them to give your sandwiches a fancy shape. (Check for gluten intolerence)

Other Vegetables – Many kids will also eat raw yellow bell pepper strips, baby celery sticks, avocado, steamed corn and steamed peas. All easy to prepare and consumable by the adults too.

If you serve some of the above with your adult meal, your little guest will be fine.

3. About chocolates/sweets/candy/ice creams/crisps, the best practice for offering any of these to a kid is to take the parent’s permission first. Most parents control the sugar and salt intake in their young ones and they are the best people to take a call on whether the child can indulge at any given moment. If the child is over 18 months and you’re seeking permission in front of them make sure you spell these treats out instead. This way you can help prevent a tantrum if the parent doesn’t want the child to consume these treats. For older kids take one of the parents aside and ask quietly if possible. If discretion is not possible, then a less ideal but still better way is to ask the child to get their parents permission for the treat.

Do avoid handing out treats without permission and whatever you do, DO NOT try to persuade the parent to allow the child a treat.

4.  A few other things to bear in mind when it comes to food and young kids.

Allergies – Common kid allergies include those to nuts, gluten and dairy. Check with the parent if serving anything that has these. (Chocolates have dairy. They can also have nuts or can be prepared in an environment that has nuts.)

Honey/Salt/Sugar – Children under a year old shouldn’t be consuming honey or much salt either. Most parents also control the total sugar intake of their kids.

If you are a parent reading this and have other useful food tips, please share here.

Related:

1. Foods for your pregnant guest – Seafoods
2. Foods for your pregnant guest – Cheese
3. Gifts for kids
4. Buying clothes for someone else’s kid
5. Etiquette around kids


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