Wednesday, 17 July 2013

My mini battle with toddler mealtimes

Lately we have been experiencing issues with Little Mans mealtimes and eating.
He has never been a big eater, even as a baby but now hes that bit older and more assertive, we're struggling to keep his nutrition up. Ive heard other parents worry about this so I know its normal for a child his age, even my mum said my brother and I went through a difficult eating stage but it doesnt stop me from worrying anyway!

He used to love breakfast and would sometimes eat 3 to 4 weetbix or a couple of weetbix and toast. Lunch has always been hit and miss but he would normally eat a decent enough dinner or he would have enough smaller snacks in the arvo that I wouldnt worry too much.

The frustrating thing is at childcare he eats a good 4-5 meals a day! This in itself is some sort of saviour knowing hes getting at least 2 days of decent nutrition but I dont understand why he eats like a horse at care but not at home. Im not sure whether its because all the other kids are eating so he is encouraged to eat with them?

I decided we needed to change, our routine wasnt working and after discussion with Husby we thought we'd try something different.

So before his basic routine was:

7am - Milk when he wakes up. Sometimes he would have 3 cups full.

8-9am Offer breakfast. usually toast, crumpets, cereal, yoghurt, pancakes...whatever he feels like on the day.

before 11-12 (naptime) we would offer a snack or lunch depending on whether he ate a good breakfast or none at all. Most of the time he wouldnt really have anything decent especially if he did happen to eat something for breakfast. He could then sometimes sleep until  3pm and not be hungry straight away which would mean he wouldnt really get a lunch (if he didnt eat before his nap) or he ate too close to dinner time which then hinders dinnertime eating.

5:30-6pm - we all sit down for dinner. Again, depending on the day he may eat ok or not be hungry at all. We still offer him what we're having or a slight variation and we dont offer alternatives. I figure if he was hungry he would eat or attempt to eat what was there.

Some changes we made are:

1. In the morning instead of bowing to LM needs of more milk, he has 1 cup of milk and thats it. I think all that milk was filling him up and therefore wasnt hungry for breakfast in an hour or so time. I dont know why we didnt think or do this sooner but so far it seems to have helped a lot. He may whinge to start with but gets over it pretty quickly. Hes since been having a decent brekky.
2. Try and extend his naptime out to at least 12pm by keeping him super busy in the morning. This works well for me on the weekend anyway cos I like to get all my errands out the way in the morning and be back home for his nap in the arvo. This way we can offer lunch around 1130 meaning he goes to sleep with a full belly and this meal is out of the way. Sometimes it doesnt work out and he gets sleepy earlier missing that lunchtime window.
3. Try not to offer any snacks or meals after 4pm before dinner. This has been helping come dinnertime as he's more likely to eat or attempt to eat something because he's more likely to be hungry.

Now this may all sound like basic stuff, commonsense really but sometimes you cant really see where youre going wrong especially if your new to this mothering business. Parenting is all a bit of trial and error and no child is the same.
I did read a good line the other day that said children need to feel hungry. Too many of us nowadays think we should keep feeding their bellies. Why do we need to pack a lunchbox full of snacks to head down to the shops. Im a little bit guilty of this but when I think back to my  childhood, my mother never did that. We would have to wait until we got home to eat or even drink. She never even packed a drink bottle for us!.  Funny how this parenting gig evolves!

Do you have any tips and tricks for funny eaters? Been in a similar situation? Tell me your story. Make me feel better!

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