As a parent we always worry about whether our children are eating enough, too much, too little or the right foods.
Using my own kids as an example, my eldest Rosie (turning four), her appetite changes day to day and sometimes she eats a lot, other days she seems content with smaller meals. However, my youngest Penny who just turned one has always had a larger appetite since she was first introduced solids at four months of age. Also, I just want to point out I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist and you should always seek advice from a Medical Professional. Please remember all kids are different, each family is unique in their own routines/eating habits. This is what works for our family.
Kids often let their internal cues of hunger and fullness guide their eating habits. We have delicious fresh produce available to us, so I do try to offer healthier alternatives (but of course, she asks for chocolate like any other child and she loves her ice cream!)
For our family it is important to:
- Get the kids involved in preparing meals – We have Rosie involved in prepping meals, we often ask if she wants to join us in chopping vegetables or add salt and pepper. She is so proud to have "cooked" the meal she does not hesitate to eat it!
- All meals eaten together – This one is tricky, especially since each family do things differently, or the timing is just off, one child isn’t hungry, one is throwing a tantrum, or one could be having a nap! But, even if breakfast and/or lunch isn’t eaten all together, we do our best to be seated together during dinner. This is what works for us and it may not work for your family, but we aim to eat our meals together (with young kids it can be hard, I totally get it!). Dinner is a family favourite; dad is at home and we get to eat and catch up on our day.
- Finishing their meals – This is always a big trigger for myself, especially when I’ve spent time cooking the family meal only for kids to reject it or only eat half of what I’ve served up. With Rosie I serve her portion on a smaller bowl or plate so she can see she's eating a ‘full plate’ of food. I've always told her, that food is the fuel to her muscles, helping her run, jump and play. It also helps her brain grow, as learning takes energy! I also asked "Do you remember how we put petrol in the car to make sure it runs?" She says with enthusiasm "Yes!"
I then repeat, it's like that except food is for our bodies and our minds.
- Sticking to our routine – lastly, I serve her meals at the same time every day. Since she was a baby, Rosie (and Penelope now too), have loved being in a routine, they're both hungry at the same or close to the same time each day! This makes it easier for me to plan and prep meals for the whole family.
However, we take it day by day and this does not mean we do not have our battles during mealtimes. Some days she dislikes what I have prepared, and we must encourage her to try it and other days she does not make it to the dinner table. We have our moments like all families do but this my family’s personal food culture.
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Bunny Roo Mama/Founder