Toddler Survival Tip #5
5. PICKY EATERS
Ever feel like a battle zone at the kitchen table? Did you try all the stuff you grew up hearing and hating? "If you don't eat your broccoli, you can't have dessert!" "Eat or go to bed." "Your going to sit here until that plate is empty!" etc...
Even though you may manage to squeeze, slide, poke a bit of unwanted food between your child's lips, can you make them chew or swallow?
Eating begins when you offer an infant a bottle or breast. Your confidence is the key with either choice of bottle or breast. Your child will feel your confidence and assurance your doing the best for them and they will relax and eat. Eventually they move to solids and start the weaning process, which can be stressful for baby and parent. There are many free supports out there to talk to about this process. The La Leche League is one of these. For more information feel free to contact me and I can find resources for you.
Finally your baby is a toddler eating more solids on their own. Some parents believe they can make their children eat with treats, threats, promises or other means. Through research, they have seen toddlers throw up, sneak food to the dog, glare at the food, starve themselves, tantrum and worse, leaving everyone feeling horrible.
You DON'T want meantime to be a miserable, stressful time every day. As a family, this is usually the only time they all get to be together.
Your only job is the prepare healthy snacks with at least one thing on the plate you know they love and want to eat. Then don't say anything, ignore all protest and keep eating and chatting as a family. Most pediatricians agree that children will choose to eat what their body requires in time. Maybe not everyday. You present the food and it's their job to chew and swallow.
Your job is to provide the healthy food. She feeds it to herself. Don't obsess about how much she eats; kids don't starve themselves.
1. They'll eat when they are hungry... Many toddlers are too busy during the day to eat enough and ask for food at bedtime. Build a bedtime snack into the routine to help him sleep better. If your potty training, try to avoid milk or liquids too close to bedtime. An hour before bed should be last liquids, but a banana is a great bedtime snack. Peanut butter on toast is another. A great idea I read once was to have a drawer that they can access themselves with healthy snacks like nuts, raisins, banana's, granola bars, cereal etc that they could go to and get out a snack when they are hungry. This works well with many children in the house and you can't always keep track of who didn't get a snack today.
2. PRESENTATION COUNTS! Offer colourful food. Sometimes making the food into faces or fun designs encourages eating. Always have at least one thing on the plate they do like.
3. Don't force-feed. This only creates power struggles. If baby spits out food at you, this is an indication they have had enough. DON'T talk about it or stress about it. Make it a non importance. Allow a healthy snack before bed later if they eat nothing. If they throw the food on the ground, say, "I can see your done eating, you may push the plate away, but no throwing. Let's clean it up together." Get a sponge and show them how to clean up after themselves. (wait until there is no heated battling... calm down first)
4. Resources are helpful... The Health Unit has write ups on toddlers eating and one statement said that most toddlers do not eat dinner. Small snacking throughout the day is normal. We should be eating every 2 hours and have a small dinner even as adults. Largest meals should be breakfast. Funny that most toddlers will eat breaksfast. This not eating at dinner time can last up to 5 years old. So it's nice to know its normal.
Of course if your child has any health issues or there is a weight concern, see your doctor.
REMEMBER Mealtime is about getting together, sharing the best parts of your day. Ask each other, "What was your happiest part of the day!" Don't use dinner time to complain about the day, leave that for later when kids are in bed if you need to vent. Share, relax, laugh and build memories. Eventually your little toddler become teens and then you can't keep them out of the fridge. Good Luck!