The problem with feeding kids is that it’s constantly changing. Right when you figure how to feed your baby, they grow into one year olds needing completely new foods. They develop a favorite food, to then completely dislike it a few months later. Then there are the phases when they refuse to eat complete food groups… or forget food groups- eat anything! If your 2 year old refuses to eat, or you have a picky eater at any age- try these tips today.
This post is sponsored by Happy Family Brands but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Our Current Phase
Prepping ahead is how I best manage food in our house. If you have been reading this blog for a while, that probably doesn’t surprise you. 🙂 I like doing a month’s worth of baby food and also a large breakfast meal prep to make sure we have healthy whole food options ready on a daily basis.
But life happens! I’m pregnant with our third son and the sickness throughout the first few months has been UNREAL. Like everyday lingering nausea over here. It completely threw me off in so many ways. I went into survival mode and extra prepping was just not happening as frequently.
This led me into a habit of just grabbing whatever was around- especially for those hectic mornings or afternoon snack time when the boys are always exclaiming they are “starving!”.
And man! Do kids pick up on your changes or what? I had to do a reset and think about all the things that worked for our eating schedule that needed to be brought back.
Ask for Help
You are not alone if you’ve ever struggled to feed your baby or toddler. Like I mentioned above, unfortunately the phase you are in may not be the last one your child goes through. Like anything with motherhood, support is so important! Ask other moms and your community, as well as go to the experts for advice.
I was so excited when I found out about this new resource from Happy Family Organics. It’s called Happy Mama Mentor and you can hop on to ask any feeding related questions to a group of experts. I’ve already loved the food this brand makes, it’s our go to yogurt pouch since they have no added sugar. And overall, their ingredients are exactly the things you want your babies and toddlers to be eating.
I think this new service is phenomenal and wish it was thought of sooner. They have a team of experts of lactation specialists and registered dietitians- all certified in infant and maternal nutrition and parents themselves! You can chat with them and ask almost any question regarding nursing, feeding babies, toddlers or older kids. So for any phase you may be in- someone can give some fast support and expert advice. The resource is available from 8am–8pm (EST) Mon-Fri & 8am–4pm (EST) Sat-Sun.
The other day I spoke to someone as I was looking for more ideas for healthy snack items. We are often on the go and I need to be able to give my boys something outside at a park or in the car. (Our commute home from Miles’ school is kind of long.) Since they love to snack, it’d be great if they had at least some nutritional value.
Within minutes of asking for suggestions, Rachel sent me a huge list of options. Then she emailed me our chat so I can reference our conversation later. One of the most surprising elements is that she listed items I usually save for meals. These don’t have to just be for meals! An egg muffin or avocado toast are also great snack ideas.
Offer Variety- Including Disliked/Denied Food
Miles- my 4 year old- has gone through several, several phases of food. He didn’t eat meat for almost 6 months when he was 2. He used to dislike avocado but loves it now. Ellis, who is 2, never has really liked corn- but the last couple of months he has decided he loves it and asks for more.
You really don’t know how long a phase will last, or when your toddler will decide they like a food again. So it helps to keep offering it to them. It’s definitely not the biggest portion of food on their plate- but I always gave Ellis a little bit of corn if it was part of dinner. Did the same with meat for Miles- just a small portion and eventually he started eating some kinds and later more.
Meals and snacks should include a variety of food groups and be as nutritious as possible. Like I mentioned above, I needed some more suggestions for how to make our snacks healthier.
Consistent timing also supports good food habits, space them out every 2-3 hours. There was a time when our afternoon snack was too close to dinner and was a big reason my boys weren’t eating as much of their food at dinner time.
Don’t Pressure them to Eat
Most of us have stories of sitting at the table until our plates were clean. Or at least I do. My sisters and I still sitting at the table after my parents left- trying to sneak food back into the pot or give it to the dog because we didn’t want anymore.
All of the research about picky eating and healthy habits point out that it’s not an effective method. Go figure. 🙂
Instead, offer everything you prepared for dinner, larger portions of foods they like and smaller portions of food they don’t particularly care for. We tell our kids they have to at least try their food but they don’t necessarily have to finish it. We also sit together during dinner as a family. *As much as possible. Ellis hates to sit still, so as long as we can nail him down.
Ellis isn’t as picky as Miles was. He has his own set of fun mealtimes attributes. He gets upset at little things, like if his plate is the wrong color, he’ll toss his food on the floor. It’s beyond frustrating. But if the food goes on the floor- it’s trash and he has nothing else to eat for that meal. We try our best to respond calmly and not yell, that has had the best outcomes.
Same with picky eaters- if they don’t eat the meal prepared, then they need to wait for the next meal to eat.
This takes some time to get used to. None of us want to have kids that are hungry- but if they are healthy and growing as they should, they will eat when ready. And if they get used to acting out or not eating and then being rewarded with a new meal- the behavior continues.
Food is Fun!
Mealtimes should be an enjoyable part of the day. Even though these teaching moments for us parents can make them a bit more stressful. There was a while when I was taking their actions too personal- but it’s really not about us, or our cooking. Just try to enjoy the ride, let your kids have choices in what they eat and even play with their food to experience what it is.
Remember that phases come and go. And if you feel especially frustrated, take advantage of the free professional advice on the Happy Family Organics site.
And of course- I’d love to hear from you as well. Please share below how you have overcome mealtime struggles in your household or how you plan to overcome what you are currently battling.
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