What to do when your child won’t eat rice!

Lots of parents tell me their child eats pasta happily, but rice … not so much!

Now the two basic rules ALWAYS apply of course:

⭐️ Keep serving rice whether they eat it or not. It only needs to be tiny amounts at first, alongside foods they eat reliably.

⭐️ Put absolutely no pressure on them to eat the rice – or even try it. Ever!

But here are three ideas to give things a ‘boost’ and increase the chances your child will begin to eat rice.

#1 Upside-down rice!

First of all, cook rice in this easy-peasy way that makes it sticky (Double amount of water to white long-grain rice. Lid on. Full blast heat until it bubbles. Then lowest possible heat until ALL the water is absorbed. No stirring at any point!). When it’s ready, ask your child to help you serve it. Get them to spoon it into a small bowl, pat it down a little bit with the back of the spoon and then turn it upside down onto the plate – to create a perfect little mound of rice! (Just like you see often in a Thai restaurant). It’s a really pleasing task which even a two-year-old can do!

#2 Training chopsticks!

Order a pair of children’s ‘training’ chopsticks that are more like tongs (e.g. https://tinyurl.com/yxgegqb5). Then cook some rice the sticky way again. Choose a time when you and your child are both in a good mood and have a chat with them about how countries like China and Japan use chopsticks to eat food – even tiny little grains of rice! Then surprise them with the children’s chopsticks you’ve bought – and let them have a go at picking up the rice you’ve cooked. Don’t do any of this at mealtime – or ideally, not even at the table where you eat! This way there is no feeling that you are expecting them to eat the rice (though if they do, great!). However, the next time you do serve rice at a meal, give them the chopsticks to use!

#3 Rice sandwiches!

These are officially called ‘onigiri’ (they’re from Japan) but “rice sandwich” is a much more relatable and appealing name for a child! They’re really fun to make and all you need is a set of triangle rice moulds (e.g. https://tinyurl.com/y5cunvyz) Put in a layer of rice (sticky again!), then a filling (lay out a bunch of fillings for your child to pic n’ mix from. e.g. chopped up ham, grated cheese, tuna mayo, grated carrot, finely cut cucumber sticks….) and finally another layer of rice. Now put the lid of the mould on and squash it down with all your might and – da-nah! – out comes an adorable little triangular rice sandwich! Pushing each one out the mould is as fun and satisfying as pushing a sandcastle out from a bucket! (You can see a photo story of my daughter making them with her friend here! https://tinyurl.com/y59ahbr9) Have them for lunch straight away – making sure there is at least one other ‘reliable’ thing on the table for them to eat too even if it’s just leftover fillings.

The aim of all three of these ideas isn’t to make rice LOOK FUN to trick your child into eating it  – and you shouldn’t expect them to work the very first time! No, the aim is to shift their attitude towards rice by:

👍 Getting them up close and personal with it – looking at it, touching it, smelling it – so they become more familiar, comfortable and ‘friendly’ with it.

👍 Creating pleasurable, positive associations with it through the enjoyment of the activities – including one-to-one, focused time with you.

👍 Giving them a feeling of ‘ownership’ over it – children are more likely to eat something when they’ve been involved and felt empowered.

If you liked this, you might like What to do when your child is fussy about SANDWICHES!