1. Make new flavours the norm

    Keep introducing new foods and flavours at home, to get your little one used to experimenting with new tastes at the dinner table – this will set them up for any unfamiliar foods at the school table.

  2. Do a practice run

    You could also contact their school and request a sample menu and then cook up some of the meals they offer at home. It will give you peace of mind to know there are dishes available at school that your little one has enjoyed before, and they will feel comforted by eating something mum and dad have prepared previously.

  3. Communication is key

    As soon as their place at school is confirmed, start talking to them about what to expect when it comes to mealtimes. Make sure they know they will be sitting down to eat with their classmates, and that they can ask their teachers if there is anything they’re not sure about. Knowing what to expect will help them adjust that little bit easier.

  4. Perfect their food-cutting skills

    If your little one hasn’t quite mastered using a knife and fork yet, then now is a good time to help them hone their cutlery skills. Encourage them to try to cut, spread, spear and scoop their food themselves before jumping in to help them. You can also try adding cutlery-like “tools” to other activities, like crafts – think scooping beads with spoons, spreading glue and picking up playdough by spearing it.

  5. Get them used to set snack breaks

    Check how many snack breaks they will get at school. If your little one is used to always-on snacking then you might decide to try set “snacktimes” at home, so they are used to the reduction during the school day. If they aren’t currently used to a snack routine, you could try offering them a few snacks through the day, or even practicing saying “No thank you” if they’re offered food when they’re not hungry.

  6. Help them to love their greens

    Government rules are in place to ensure school meals meet precise nutritional values, so there will always be one or more portions of vegetables or salad on your kids’ plate. If your 3-and-up tends to shy away from their fruit and veg, it’s worth talking to them about how important it is to eat this part of their school meal. Try explaining that the ‘healthies’ will give them the energy and brain power to make it through the rest of the day.

  7. Make sure everyone is aware of your child’s no-go foods

    Contact the headteacher and explain the situation. If you have medical notes to back up your request, then make sure you have them available to share. It’s also a good idea to talk to your little one about their dietary requirements and make sure they understand what they can and cannot eat, as well as what meals might contain no-go ingredients for them.

  8. There is a lot to think and talk about, but by doing so you can really help make your little one’s transition easier. Try to make the conversations enthusiastic and positive, even if you are feeling nervous about it all yourself. Heading off to school can be such an exciting time, and spending time getting your kids food-ready can give everyone the little confidence boost needed to really embrace it!

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