Noah has been referred to as “the moose, or piggy” when it comes to food as he has always inhaled anything that was in front of him. In the past month or so, this has not been the case.
As babies reach one-year-old and older, their eating needs change. Think of how quick they grew from birth to one-year old. Their growth slows down and so does their need to eat as much.
This has been different to say the least because my husband and I aren’t used to our son not eating nearly as much as he used to. We need to remind ourselves that he eats as much as he wants at that time. We never want to force or pressure him to eat as that has negative effects.
Our son knows when he is hungry and will walk to the food pantry or over to his high chair too, which is helpful. We are trying to limit the times that our son snacks between meals because then his belly is not hungry enough when it is meal time.
We offer water between meals and almond milk with his meals. He also says “wa wa” when he is thirsty and he always keeps his water bottle in the cup holder of our couch. This boy loves his water!
The strategies below are some that I took from personal experience, different webinars, and some research, regarding picky eating.
1. Do not pressure your child to eat.
· The parent’s responsibility is to choose what, when and where to eat.
· The child’s responsibility is to decide how much, and what they eat.
When we pressure our kids at mealtime, we are trying to control how much they eat. I can’t imagine someone sitting at the table with me, telling me to eat more, especially if I am not hungry.
· Bribing-take a bite of this and then you can have some dessert.
· Begging-please take a bite, please try a little bit, you will like it.
· Guilting kids-please take a bite, you said you wanted it and now you are refusing it.
· Rewards-if you finish a meal or try a new food and take so many bites, you can have dessert or candy or treats.
This is stepping out of our role as a parent or care giver. We only need to figure out what, where and when our kid eats and the rest is up to them to figure out.
Pressure is a big deal.
· It creates mistrust. They start to hyper focus on certain foods and think they’ll be
pressured to eat everything else.
· If they are pressured, they naturally shut down and distrust new foods.
· It can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
· It can lead to over eating.
· Let go of the pressure and instead, focus on enjoying meal time with your child and don’t worry about how much they are eating. They will eat when they are hungry.
2. Serve food as a family, not individual meals.
· Always have at least one food that your child typically eats at one meal.
· Allow them to eat as much of their food as they want.
· Help them by seeing that they don’t have their own separate food. They should eat what the rest of the family is eating.
3. Get on a schedule and end the grazing in between meals.
· You want your child to be hungry at mealtime and not full from snacking every time they are the slightest bit hungry, between meals.
Creating a schedule.
· Focus on intervals and space meals 2.5 to 3.5 meals apart throughout the day.
The start of one meal to the start of the next.
· Offer milk with meals and water between meals.
We follow Noah’s daycare schedule, as much as we can. At the current time, he has a little bit of breakfast around 6:15 after he wakes up for the day. A snack around 8:00-8:30. Lunch at 11:00. A snack again around 3:00. Dinner around 5:00, and sometimes a little snack before bed which is around 7:00PM.
This schedule changes from time to time at home or if we are traveling etc. but keeping the routine helps with predictability and helps your little one for when it is meal time.
I know that his food needs will always be evolving, but having a few ground rules or a plan in my back pocket, sure does help with any meal time battles.