Is it too hot?
First things, first, how do you know if the food your child is eating is too hot? Taste it first! Before putting a plate of food in front of your child, the FDA advises parents to let food sit for 30 seconds and try it themselves to make sure it isn't too hot. You should also be aware of hot spots that can form when you microwave food, so stir well after warming food in the microwave or use the stove top instead. (Here are other dangerous mistakes even savvy parents can make.)
Let it chill
If your taste test has shown that dinner is way too hot, there are a few tricks you can try. The simplest? Throwing their prepared plates in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes while you get everyone ready to eat. "I stick it in the fridge, away from foods that would be negatively affected by the heat," mom Kierstin Gunsberg shared. "It also gives me a chance to put the girls in their seats, grab their silverware, and pour drinks."
Another method for cooling your child's food that doesn't require the lung capacity of an Olympic swimmer is using a fork to poke holes into the dish. "I always poke holes in it," Jeanne S. says. " Especially something thick like mac & cheese or a casserole. It lets the air into the different pockets." Cutting food into small, equally sized pieces before warming it up may also help you to avoid hot spots in the food, according to a report by Berkeley Wellness on microwave safety.
It won't work for everything, but adding ice to certain foods is great way to cool dishes that are too hot to eat. Stir an ice cube or two into soups, hot drinks, or even macaroni & cheese. Before letting your kiddo dig in, give it one last taste test to make sure it has cooled enough to avoid burning. Here are more genius uses for ice cubes you never thought to try.
Mix in jarred sauce
Get creative when it comes to cooling down piping hot food. Is there something cool you can mix in, or a part of the dish you can avoiding heating up altogether? When I cook spaghetti for my kids, I don't heat up the jarred sauce at all. After I boil the pasta, I mix it in with the room temperature sauce to bring the whole dish to a kid-friendly temperature.
Top oatmeal with milk or frozen berries
My kids love oatmeal, but they're often way too impatient to wait for it to cool down from boiling lava status to dig in. Before arming them with spoons, my husband typically throws in some frozen berries and then tops it all with a splash of cold milk. With a little stirring, this healthy breakfast dish quickly cools down to the perfect temperature. (Here are more healthy oatmeal toppers worth a try.)
Keeps frozen gel packs handy
If you're looking for a less labor intensive method for cooling down a plate of steaming food, you might benefit from keeping a few frozen gel packs in your freezer at all times. Once you are finished preparing their food, place the gel packs on your counter and their plates on top. You might want to press down on the plate a little to speed up the cooling process, according to Yishan Wong, a frequent poster of Quora, a crowdsourcing website.
Use an ice bath
In culinary school, chefs are taught to use ice baths to cool foods quickly enough to avoid overcooking certain items according to The Kitchn. You don't have to be a culinary genius to use this trick at home. Using your sink or a large packing dish, create a very shallow bath of ice and water. Place your kid's plate in the ice bath for a few minutes until it is cooled through.