As a mom of 3, I’m well aware of the mundane daily routine that takes place at the dinner table! Fussy kids, sick kids, tired kids…all a great reason/excuse of why your child just refuses to eat what’s on his or her plate! This resulting in the “table standoff”, usually ending in threats and tears (even mommy tears!!). Luckily, I would have to say that my kids are pretty adventurous when it comes to food, so the dinner table drama would be minimal. It’s not all perfect though…there are day’s when I wish I could just wave my magic wand and all would be different. Or call “Super Nanny” to come give me a hand.
I believe that easy mealtimes start from the beginning, of course allowing the phases of “likes and dislikes” to occur (and pass on by). I have 5 main rules that I try to follow to ensure that I’m doing everything that I can do, to have “easy eating children”. Result = a very happy mommy!
My 5 Rules for Easy Eating Children:
- Breastfeed – I’m a firm advocate for breastfeeding. The health benefits for mama and baby are endless (but that’s for a different post)! One of the reasons why I believe breastfeeding is so important when it comes to kids eating habits, is that baby is getting such a variety of flavors from what you’re eating thereby opening up his/her taste buds far better than any formula could ever boast.
- Start them young – If you get them eating healthy, varied, and even more “adventurous” foods from the start they will probably continue eating this way as they grow. Of course introduce foods slowly but don’t limit yourself with baby food, give them food that you would have on your plate or at least just get them to try it. And make sure to introduce finger foods as soon as recommended as exposure to texture is very important in avoiding a picky eater.
- No snacking – Yes, children are growing and will of course be needing to “graze” especially during growth spurts. Rules and guidelines however are imperative. Healthy snacks such as fruit, crackers, dried fruit, yogurt are all good choices as they will provide them with the energy and sustenance their active little body’s are needing. Crisps, chocolate, candies, muffins, store-bought juice etc…won’t be filling or nutritious and will only lead to even more snacking. The timing of snacks is crucial, my rule is nothing after an hour before dinner time. I make the exception of giving them some of the vegetables I would be preparing for dinner. If they have a hard time at eating veg this may be the perfect time as hunger=eating!
- Eat as a family – Eating as a family means at the table, together, eating the same food. Mommy and daddy, if you can’t be at the table at the same time at least make sure they’re eating the same food that you will be eating. Do try whenever possible to eat together. This is a habit that has to start from baby/toddler age. If you get into the habit of preparing them a separate dish it will inevitably result in boring, tasteless, unhealthy (yes, ditch those nuggets please!!) and unadventurous food.
- Portion control – This in my opinion is a very important rule. The portion sizes now-a-days’ have gone way out of control for both adult and child. It can be quite depressing for a picky child or any child for that matter to see this huge plate of food in front of them. By giving them a smaller portion they will feel they can accomplish the task of scraping their plate clean and may even ask for seconds. They will also develop the habit of eating whatever is on their plate. Happy day’s!