Tots and Table Matters – Tips for Rearing a Well-Mannered Junior Foodie
Dragons of Walton Street and New York based Von Gern Home have joined forces to create a magical tableware collection, just for the little foodie in your life. The idea behind the collection is that every day should be a special occasion. And, what better way to elevate your child’s every meal to the extraordinary than with a tableware collection that delights and inspires with pretty Dragons artwork?
This tableware collection also celebrates our own dream! You know, the one where we have the kind of child who is as at home brunching at the Ivy as they are elegantly navigating finger food at the nursery.
Whilst some children seem born with this knack, others require a little bit more practice. In celebration of our children’s tableware launch, here are our top tips for raising a child who can master the fine art of fine dining – or at least won’t cause a perfectly lovely restaurant to descend into utter chaos unless your little darling is safely mollified with a handheld device.
- Believe it or not, some fine dining restaurants actively go out of their way to throw their doors open to junior foodies – these folks are obviously as brave as they are skilled with a razor sharp chef’s knife! Take Tredwells in London’s Covent Garden. This smart establishment, headed up by Marcus Wareing, is the only restaurant in London featuring a children’s tasting menu. Your child, and friends, can try seven different courses in a sitting, and will be given their very own recipe to take home! For this particular treat, we definitely recommend at least a solid week’s practice at home. Practice saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘sparkling water please’ to the pretend waiter.
- Mastering a fork? Easy. Mastering a knife AND a fork? A veritable challenge for little uncoordinated hands with underdeveloped wrist muscles and a tendency to try to wander free. Many brands offer good ‘training’ cutlery for little ones, in a variety of child friendly materials – perfect for gripping. A great tip for explaining how to use a knife and fork in tandem is to mark alternating coloured lines on an unpeeled banana – one colour for where the knife enters and one where the fork should be inserted to hold the food. Demonstrate the technique to your child with adult cutlery so they will understand the underlying concept before showing them how to emulate on their own.
- When you are at home eating, is your smart phone or laptop an unofficial but very welcomed dining companion? Family meals are all about coming together to exchange the day’s experiences and to share in good fare. Your little one is watching you for cues to how to master this vital social discourse and so, it might be best to think of mealtimes as sacred in order to train your little one in the highly social act and life skill of gracious dining.
- Is your little one more hungry to share their ideas than they are for partaking in what is actually on their plate? That is a perfectly normal and adorable part of being brand new to the world. One good idea for safety and good manners is to (repeatedly!) remind your little one that no one likes to see someone chew food and chat all at once! Eventually, chewing with one’s mouth closed becomes second nature but, until then, why not make it a game? Get your entire family to get involved in the ‘who chews with their mouth closed longest’ game. If you have grown-up guests who have mastered the skill, have a quiet word with them about the signal and joining in!
- Legend has it that there was once a child born with a taste for oysters and pheasant. If that wasn’t your child, don’t despair. There is more interest than ever before in getting children to widen their palettes with healthier options. This means that there are more opportunities than ever before for your child to try foods in fun ways. For example, in the UK in 2021 a national ‘Culinary Kids’ campaign was spearheaded by restaurant booking platform TopTable. Amongst other things, this campaign encouraged parents to implement home-based foodie kiddie endeavours such as ‘Kids Cook Monday’. Perhaps a greatest tip of all for turning your tot into a junior foodie with a healthy respect for the dining experience is to give them a love of food through cooking with them. A helpful list of child friendly recipes are available at mondaycampaigns.org
Cutlery and accessories kindly provided by Christofle
Joy Archer is a trained journalist who defected from her job in the City to become an interior designer. Now, many fabulous projects later she combines her writing skills with her love of all things interiors and babies in her role as PR for Dragons of Walton Street. Joy’s favourite Dragons piece is the huge friendly brown lion which she pats every morning for good luck.