“She’s so skinny. Why don’t you feed her?” I can’t count how many times I heard this about my child. Every time I heard it, I would take a mental step back as if I was slapped. Sounds extreme? No really, that comment hurt. If only they knew how much thought and work I put into feeding the kids.
“Maybe it’s genetics,” I thought to myself. I used to be a finicky eater myself in childhood. Maybe it was the toddler appetite slump. This is real and most young kids go through it. My fear, however, was that my child would never grow out of this slump. So what did I do? First, I reconciled myself to the fact that my child was not going to gobble down food (like many of the other kids we knew). Second, I had to force myself to stay focused on one goal. And that was “to create healthy eating habits for life.
Today I am sharing one of my successes with you. The success is in my own realization of one very important fact. The fact that children like structure in their life. They need it and they respond to it. This structure should most definitely be extended to the dining table.
Set the meal times and snack times. It will simplify your life and it will allow your child to learn that food should not be grazed on all day.
Structure the plate. At every meal, create a plate with three different components. For instance, let’s say, you prepare a plate with green beans, cut apple, and baked breaded chicken nuggets. Have your child rotate taking bites between each component. In this case, first one bite of beans, then one bite of apple, then one bite of chicken and so on and so on. Treat it like a game. This will keep them focused on their task (or game) of eating and they get the variety of foods they need (without realizing it).
It takes a couple of weeks for the kids to get used to this routine, but they will respond positively to it. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as well. What has worked and what hasn’t worked for you?
Photo courtesy: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net