It can be quite a defeated feeling having spent time and effort preparing food for your children, only to have them fling it on the floor, spit it out, or flat out refuse to try it at all.
This has always been my mantra for meal times since my little ones have been on solids:
They don’t get to choose what is for dinner, but they can choose how much they eat.
I offer food at snack and meal times, this usually includes some new foods, tastes and textures to try, alongside food I know they like. They need to sit and try it. If they are hungry they will eat, if not then I try again in an hour or so. I always offer water too and it is very rarely that they won’t take some water even if they are not interested in the food at that time.
If my baby or toddler don’t seem to be eating much on a particular day then I offer more milk.
Some days it feels like they eat hardly anything at all, and other days they are like little vacuum cleaners. If you have a look at what they have eaten across a few days rather than that particular day you will often find that it evens itself out.
I think we get caught up in the thought that if they don’t eat lots during the day and a huge meal at dinnertime they won’t sleep through the night.
I really believe that babies and toddlers have it right when they eat when they want to eat and don’t eat when they don’t want to eat.
Just because it is ‘mealtime’ eg. 12pm, or 5.30pm doesn’t mean that our bodies need a large amount of food at that particular time on that particular day.
Often adults eat because it it ‘lunchtime’ or ‘dinnertime’. We eat because we feel we should, not. because our bodies need it.
Many things can affect a little one’s eating. Let’s have a look at just a couple:
It can be a problem if you are offering lots of snacks through out the day and then when it comes to meal time, they are simply not hungry.
Try cutting off snacks one and a half hours before dinner is to be served. This will ensure they are actually hungry enough to eat a decent meal.
Having sore gums will definitely make your little one less likely to feel like solid foods. It can be hard for infants and toddlers to communicate why they don’t want to eat.
If you suspect this is the case, it should only last a couple of days. During this time, offer plenty of milk and water alongside soft food, small amounts often.
High fibre, low-GI cereals soaked in milk can be good. Try making smoothies with their favourite fruits and vegetables. These smoothies can even be frozen in to iceblocks for relief from very sore teeth.
Set out a good routine of snacks and meals, offering a wide variety of food you know they’ll eat alongside new foods. Insist that they sit down and at least have a try and a drink of water.
If they are hungry they will eat, their bodies will let them know how much they need and when.
And remember: They don’t get to choose what they eat, but they can choose how much they eat.