Suggestions related to feeding and nutrition for our kiddos
Feeding our kiddos can feel like an endless battle. Trying to enforce meal times, healthy eating, and sit-down family dinners are among these daily battles for many parents, including myself. So, I decided to turn to fellow parents to find out what they found helpful in these situations. The suggestions from them resulted in the following.
“Don’t buy it, they can’t ask for it.”
This tip refers to children only choosing to eat junk food. I have experienced this issue with my own son as he discovered Halloween candy. We hadn’t really provided “junk food” to him before and he, of course, loved the candy he received trick or treating. We didn’t feel it was an issue to allow him to enjoy a piece or two of the candy he collected. However, it became one of the only things he would ask for. So, this suggestion is beneficial! If you don’t allow unwanted or unhealthy foods in the house then children do not have it as an available option.
“Keep healthy foods readily available and stored near their level”
This is similar to the previous tip with respect to allowing only healthy foods in the home. This tip expands that idea to include keeping these food choices on hand at all times and to even store the foods at the child’s level. By storing certain kid-friendly foods at their level, you allow them to see their choices and therefore, make the choices you want them to make. In our pantry, we have chosen a lower shelf to store my son’s cereal, granola bars, rice cakes, etc for him to choose when he is hungry. This has generally worked out for us, so far.
“When they get hungry enough, they will eat”
This is perhaps an old school response to feeding children. I believe this “tip” refers to a situation where a child is given food that he or she may not have any interest in eating. The idea seems to be that when the child reaches an uncomfortable state of hunger that they will have no choice but to consume the food provided to them regardless of their desire to eat it. I have tried this method but, not on an extreme level. My son is testing the waters with food and will sometimes refuse to eat the dinner that I had cooked. Occasionally, I will only provide the intended meal for him and leave him with it for an extended period of time hoping he will get hungry enough to eat it. After about an hour of this method, I will usually offer a healthy alternative such as fruit or a peanut butter sandwich.
“One bite won’t kill you”
This is oftentimes said in an attempt to convince children to at least try the food given to them. However, this will likely be ineffective for babies and toddlers. This method should be geared towards older children around 5 years old and older. Why? Simply because when children are babies or toddlers their brains have yet to develop enough to be able to comprehend what is being asked of them. As their brains develop and they get older, children will be more receptive to “trying a bite” of something as asked of them.
Other tips and tricks from fellow parents
- Let the child choose (from healthy foods, of course) what they want to eat, how much of it they want to eat (within reason) and also, let them tell you when they are done. They are not the boss in the house but they should feel that they have a say in what goes into their bodies as well as when they have had enough.
- Avoid introducing sugary drinks such as Hawaiian punch or sodas.
- Let them try food from “the grown-up plate”, be a role model! If they see you eating it, they may want to copy you and eat it too!