Most children know exactly what they want and exactly how they like it - and they have no qualms about letting you know when you don't meet their exacting standards.
This year, my daughter has commented on the sheets in our holiday apartment being too rough and the pillows being too flat (she had a point, but still). She casually mentioned that chocolate doesn't taste nice unless it's made by Cadbury's, says that the toilet paper at school is too 'thin and scratchy' and likes her drinks to be chilled, no ice.
I don't remember caring about any of these things when I was little - but our children have developed surprisingly sophisticated tastes
, especially when it comes to food.
My mum loves to regale my six-year old with tales of my curious childhood eating habits. She explains that I wouldn't knowingly eat vegetables until I reached double figures, loved tinned sausages and beans and was deeply suspicious of rice and pasta. My daughter finds this hilarious - and unbelievable.
From what I can remember, my friends had similar tastes. Our lunchtime sandwiches were filled with paste, jam, sandwich spread or ham - and we usually had a packet of crisps and a Penguin to go with with it.
But when I was invited to lunch
at my daughter's school, I had to stifle a laugh as I watched Year 2 children take packets of sushi, salami sandwiches, houmous wraps and crudités out of their Disney lunchboxes.
Of course, we eat differently now to the way we did in the 70s and 80s. We take more holidays and we've developed more exotic tastes, so we've given our kids a culinary head start.
I didn't like olives or anchovies until I reached my mid-20s, but my daughter announced that they were her favourite pizza toppings at the ripe old age of two.
A quick straw poll of other mums suggests that I'm not the only one living with a junior gourmet.
"My nine-month-old likes olives. Olives!" says Lindsay.
"When my seven-year-old son was asked to name his favourite food he said 'lobster'," says Marina.
"I offered my son's friend a piece of fruit after dinner," says Emily. "He turned his nose up at an apple or banana and asked if I had any dragon fruit."
A cursory glance at restaurant children's menus reflects this change in tastes - there's garlic mash, lemon sole goujons, slow-cooked stews and sweet potato chips where once there was only fishfingers, chips and beans.
And their tastes have become so refined that some kids have a strong preference for particular brands.
Even if I hide the packaging, my daughter can spot food that doesn't come from a premium range - she really can 'taste the difference.'
"Mine will only eat Pizza Express supermarket pizzas," says Sali.
Sharon adds: "My daughter won't eat anything from Aldi."
Given that some children are accustomed to eating only organic food or avoiding wheat or sugar altogether, throwing a birthday party can become more stressful than catering for a grown-up sit-down dinner.
"Last Halloween we had trick or treaters who started negotiating about what was on offer," says Sally. "One couldn't eat anything with additives, another didn't eat wheat, his friend wanted to know if it was 'shop bought' cake - it was. They went away with an apple each."
Every parent knows that fussy eaters can be hard to live with - not to mention expensive. I know one mum who buys whole organic chickens to make puree for her baby and another who boils and bakes her own ham, to Nigella's recipe, every weekend because her boys don't like 'processed' meat.
Unsurprisingly, the older generation are usually quick to point out that we indulge our kids too much.
So is 'sophisticated' just another word for 'spoilt'?
"I don't think so - it's just a sign of the times," says parenting expert and author Anita Naik.
"Kids tend to eat what their parents eat and we have more choice these days, so we all have more sophisticated palates.
"It's certainly not a bad thing, unless you allow your kids to be faddy and demand sushi over fish fingers all the time. Good balance and common sense is the key - so save the gourmet food for holidays and special occasions."
It also pays to remember that children are creatures of habit - so if you already order your toddler a coffee shop babycino, think about where that could lead.
A friend of mine had a glimpse into the future this summer when she was sitting next to a seven-year-old boy and his mum on a long-haul flight.
Just as they were preparing to land, the boy turned to his mum and said: "Mama, I won't feel human until I get off this plane and get a decent cup of coffee."
Consider yourselves warned.
- Tori Spelling's daughter gets life-sized Barbie cake
90210 star Tori and husband Dean are no strangers to epic children’s birthday parties (and the photo shoot opportunities they come with), but they well and truly took the cake in 2010, when they threw daughter Stella a bumper Barbie themed party for her second birthday. The birthday girl wore a pink tutu and guests tucked into a life-sized Barbie cake (double the size of poor Stella), complete with additional pink cupcakes, pink icing and pink lemonade. Unconfirmed reports say every guest went home with sore eyes and a migraine. </p>
- Kai Rooney parties with llamas and horses
Wayne and Coleen pulled out all the stops for son Kai’s <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/07/kai-rooney-and-100-guests-party-with-llamas-and-horses-for-his-second-birthday/" target="_blank">second birthday bash</a> - horses, llamas and, er, staff dressed as cows were all in attendance. The celebrity pair hired several animals and entertainers for Kai and his 100 (!) party guests, with one perplexed insider saying: “It looked amazing. There were balloons twisted into the shape of tractors, and animals everywhere. Then somebody who looked like Snow White walked in with a goat!” Brilliant. </p>
- Angelina and Brad take Pax on a river cruise
Brangelina know exactly how to par-tay with a seven-year-old in the house - they organised a luxury river cruise on the Seine in France for birthday boy Pax. The whole clan - Brad, Ange, Maddox, Zahara and Shiloh - were aboard (minus little ‘uns Knox and Vivienne who were presumably not up for the way too grown up boat bash). At least balloons and cake made an appearance. </p>
- Gwen spends $15,000 on Kingston's fourth birthday
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale didn’t spare the pennies when their son Kingston turned four - they apparently splashed out on a party costing $15,000. Given that the party was actually held at their LA home, the couple had plenty of cash available to hire bouncy castles, actors dressed as superheroes, a luxury lemonade stand and a candy floss machine. Guests in attendance included the Beckham boys and Kate Beckinsale. </p>
- Kourtney Kardashian gets a petting zoo for Mason's first birthday
When you’re turning one, what more do you need in your life than a petting zoo and an OK! magazine exclusive? Step forward Mason Disick, whose parents, Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, threw a bumper bash with a circus and carnival theme for added effect and photo opps. The whole Kardashian clan were in attendance for the party (and magazine photos, of course…).</p>
- The Wanted play for Romeo Beckham
The Beckhams' middle son got exactly what he Wanted for his 10<sup>th</sup> birthday - his favourite band, The Wanted, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/09/04/top-boy-band-play-the-wanted-play-for-romeo-beckham-10th-birthday-party/" target="_blank">played exclusively for him and pals at his party</a>. Posh showed her appreciation afterwards, albeit very smugly, tweeting the boys with the message: “The <a href="https://twitter.com/thewantedmusic" target="_blank">@thewantedmusic</a> boys, the coolest boys in music!!! Thank you for making Romeo's 10th birthday so special!!!! X vb.”</p>
- Suri Cruise has a circus party
Rumour has it Princess Suri had a fancy pants <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/04/06/suri-cruise-birthday-13-000-circus-party/" target="_blank">fifth birthday party</a> to the tune of £13,000! Pre-split, Tom and Katie hired professional actors to dress up as children’s characters, and ordered a whole load of animals, including giraffes and elephants for Suri and her pals to marvel over. Any bets on what she’ll be getting for her next birthday, post-TomKat break up?</p>
- Britney hires trampoline park for boys' birthday bash
Brit hired an entire trampoline park for her boys to enjoy for a joint birthday party this year, when Sean Preston turned seven and Jayden James celebrated being six. Britney kept it small by celeb standards, with 20 of the boys’ friends invited to enjoy the park, eat cake (and then trampoline? Rather you than us, Brit…), and play party games before heading back home to open presents. </p>
- Harper has a ball with pink party rabbits
Harper Beckham’s <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/07/09/happy-birthday-harper-seven-beckham-victoria-david-daughter-turns-one/" target="_blank">first birthday</a> was always going to be a party to write home about, and according to reports by Closer magazine, Posh and Becks didn’t disappoint, spending a whopping £50,000 on their little’s girl’s celebrations. After years hankering for a girl to join the family, it’s no surprise the party was out-of-this-world girlie, with pink cuddly toys, pony rides, cupcakes and even pink rabbits roaming around. We feel for the cleaner…</p>
- P. Diddy's son gets a trip to Vegas
P. Diddy’s little boy got a trip of a lifetime for his 12<sup>th</sup> birthday. He was whisked away to Vegas in a fancy black tour bus for a three day break with friends. The gang saw the sights, ate a lot of pizza and tucked into a custom cake which was as tall as the birthday boy.</p>
- Mariah Carey's twins get mini Ferrari for their first birthday
Mariah was always going to go all out for dem babies’ first birthday, but twins Moroccan and Monroe really did get everything and more when they turned one - a mini Ferrari, rocking horse, dolls’ house and miniature white piano. The one-year-olds were dressed to impress for their party, with Monroe in a fancy white frock and Moroccan suited and booted in a mini tux (we’re guessing they weren’t allowed to eat!). Mariah and husband Nick Cannon shared a whole heap of party snaps from the big day, you can <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/05/14/happy-birthday-to-dem-babies-mariah-carey-shows-off-twins-moroccan-monroe-first-birthday-party-presents/" target="_blank">take a look in our gallery (you know you want to…).</a></p>