Through observing children in Rainbow Workshops, I realised I was developing a unique set of skills and a deeper understanding of what turns children on and off healthy food. After being asked to work on a one to one basis with a number of 'challenging eaters', I developed the Fun with Food Play Sessions to put the FUN back into FOOD, for parents who desperately want to get their young children eating a wider variety of food, healthy or otherwise. If you have a 'fussy eating' toddler or young child (3-7 years old approx) and you are out of ideas and thoroughly frustrated or fed up with trying to get them to try new things, or eat more than a couple of staples, these may just do the trick.
How do we start working together?
A key part of helping a child to discover how amazing food can be, is to ensure that they trust me, and enjoy spending time with me. Unless the child knows me through having attended a Rainbow Workshop, I need to spend some time alone with the child (effectively just childminding!), getting to know them, having (non food related) fun. I ask parents to complete a questionnaire about their child's eating habits. I also ask parents to identify a small number of play session friends, who can attend with the tricky eater (one per session). These must be good eaters themselves, be of a similar age, and be a child that their son/daughter enjoys playing with. I encourage parents to bring their tricky eaters to community Rainbow Workshops too, and to encourage their childcare provider to book Rainbow Workshops if possible. My aim is to maximise the tricky eater's exposure to the Rainbow Fairy, so they become familiar with what I do, who I am, and understand it is all about FUN!
The first step is a 2-3 hr consultation with the family, after completion of the questionnaire, without the child around or within earshot. I will then spend some time with the child (about 1 hr), preferably on the same day. Assuming we are all happy to proceed, we will book in three play sessions, about a week or two apart (maximum). The total cost of the consultation, and 3 play sessions is £400.
How do the play sessions work?
Each play session is ~1.5 hrs long and involves a combination of physical, sensory, creative, messy play features. Two children only are involved in all the games. I will cook/ prepare all sorts of different foods, and games, based on the progress the child is making, and what techniques help them to broaden the range of food they will try/ eat. The play session can be at your home, in my home or in a third location (sometimes a session will incorporate a trip to the coffee shop, my allotment, the fruit and veg shop, Kew Gardens, a park..). I encourage parents to leave but might ask childcarers to stay. (Parents are often the first stumbling block because children behave so differently around a parent- my own included!).
Follow up work?
Parents will receive a full de brief (by email, in a personalised progress review chart) of progress made, and tips on how to move things forward. There will be regular communication between the family and myself (photos, texts etc) so that the parent feels supported in between play sessions, and so that the tricky eater knows that everyone cares and is happy and proud of their progress.
Interested in booking a package?
Feedback from families I have worked with..
"Natasha is AMAZING. She put so much work, thought, and care into her sessions with my son, that she won us all over, including my son (no small feat!). My son (7) is a very finicky eater, and I am such a health nut that I think I turned him off completely. Natasha was able to diagnose the problem, and realised that she needed to help put the fun back into food, and establish a healthier relationship between my son and food in general, but healthy food in particular. She did this in spades, and constantly impressed us all with her creativity, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity. My son now loves showing us which vitamins and minerals are in fruit and vegetables, and is much more open to food and eating healthy food than before. We are all deeply grateful" Caroline, mum of 7 year old Tristan.
"If it wasn't for you, my 4 year old would still be surviving on Marmite sandwhiches and Heinz Tomato Soup, only. You have been a GODSEND. I can't thank you enough." Rick, dad of 4 year old Amber.
'My little boy gets SO excited about his play sessions with the Rainbow Fairy. (We are on our 9th! ) He has shown an interest in food for the first time in 2 years. He now has lots of questions about what the benefits of eating new foods are. And which will will help him run faster and jump higher! ' Gerry, mum of 3 year old Patrick.
Here is some general advice about coping with fussy eating
The main reasons for fussy eating are:
-a child is not hungry
-a child has filled up on a drink
-it is a new food
-the child is too tired
-there is too much food on a plate
-the child wants attention
-the adult is not modelling
Try to make sure none of those apply, and if you are presenting a new food, doing it right: make it fun, keep it small, and offer an incentive (like a nutritional benefit!)
and 5 golden rules when dealing with tricky eaters (from experts who know):
-offer rejected foods repeatedly (never give up)
-always role model eating you want a child to do
-never force a child to eat anything, and remove unwanted food without fuss
-never give an alternative (but always give a small 'healthy desert')
-stick to a routine: 3 meals and 2 snacks a day and mine...
-make food fun! ;)