I think if there’s one thing I have gotten right within this parenting malarkey then it’s Ivy’s relationship with food. I went down the Baby-Led Weaning route with her and I really think it has paid off. She has her moments when me, the kitchen walls and the dog end up covered in her meal but what child doesn’t take that opportunity? But most of the time she’s a fantastic eater, how long it will last is another story. But I thought I would write down these few tips which I think have helped us in the long run and hope that they help you too.
Don’t Force Food On To Them – If your child isn’t eating then 9/10 they are probably not hungry or they’ve eaten enough. I think as an adult we forget that baby/toddler tummies are a lot smaller than ours. I once read somewhere that if you make your child’s hand into a fist then that is the size of their stomach, if that’s true then that’s tiny! Forcing food onto them can give them a tummy upset and a bad relationship with food when they’re older. Stop panicking and just try again in an hour or so.
Provide A Balanced Meal At Every Meal Time – It will ensure they have a well balanced diet and are getting the exact nutrients they need at every meal time. A great way to do this is to pre-cook a big batch of vegetables and always have them to hand in the fridge for dinners or snacks or give them raw. You could also have a fruit salad chopped up sitting in the fridge so you can spoon it out when needed.
Don’t Over Face Them With Too Much Food – This also goes hand in hand with the first point but also try not to do this because otherwise they will get too overwhelmed. That’s when you end up with it all running down your walls (believe me I’ve been there and done that) they will just get frustrated and that usually means the bad behaviour comes out. Don’t have too many options on their plate either because again they will be too overwhelmed. Follow the second point and just make sure you have an option from each food group; carbohydrates, proteins and fruit/veg.
Opt For Healthier Snacks – This one is a given but I’m not saying your child should be deprived of luxuries such as chocolate, ice cream, crisps, etc. You just moderate them and try to opt for a healthier snack first. Also try not to keep them snacking all of the time in between meals as they may not be hungry when it comes to meal times. A mid morning and a mid afternoon snack should be enough.
Don’t Offer Them Dessert – Did you all gasp at that one? When you think about it, do you actually have a dessert after ALL of your meals? I didn’t think so. So why for some reason do parents seem to think that toddlers need to have a dessert after every meal? I don’t get it. If your child is still hungry after they have eaten all of their meal then offer them some fruit. And after their evening meal if they ask for a dessert and they’ve been good then by all means let them have one.
Head Down The Baby-Led Weaning Route – I won’t waffle on and on about this topic because I have written about it so many times but that’s just how much I recommend it. It did wonders for Ivy, she got to explore and learn about food in her own way and I truly think that has helped her to love and enjoy meal times. If you want to read more about it then check out this post.
Nothing Is Completely Off-Limits – By that I mean lets me sensible about it. Obviously certain things can be off-limits, such as if your child has allergies or that you shouldn’t give them honey until their one, etc. What I basically mean is things like spices or herbs. Obviously don’t cook a meal using the worlds hottest pepper but do not be afraid to put some spice in there. Only the other day I made a curry and I served Ivy’s up just before I sat down to mine, it was only once I had my first mouthful that I realised I had made it a bit too spicy. I looked over at Ivy and her dish was almost empty, she’d devoured it! Which makes sense because when I was pregnant I had a huge craving for all things spice. Don’t be afraid to give your child a wide variety of things, what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t like it. Try something else then.
Relax And Have Fun – What it all boils down to is ensuring your child has a great relationship with food and in order for that to happen you just have to relax and enjoy the experience. As a parent your bound to worry about whether they’re eating enough or getting enough nutrients, worrying comes with the territory. At the end of the day if your toddler see’s you relaxing and enjoying meal times (whilst secretly screaming inside at the mess) then they will too!