One issue that many parents face with their kiddos is how to get them to eat and create healthy eating habits. Kids are picky and they don’t always eat what you serve them. Or they are not hungry when it is dinner time and so they simply won’t eat.
At Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center, we understand that these simple daily tasks can be difficult to tackle with children. We wanted to give you some tips and advice to help make feeding your children easier. In this blog, we will discuss some different ways to create healthy eating habits with your kids and how to get them to eat.
Read on to learn more and contact us with any questions you may have.
Theories For Feeding Your Children
The first thing parents should realize is that there are two theories about how to feed their children. While the method you choose depends on how you want to parent your children, we wanted to go over both theories with you! You can also use both theories and balance the two. Finding what works for your family can help make mealtime easier and allow you to avoid the fussing and fighting when it comes to your children eating.
The first theory is that your children will eat what you eat. Allowing you to avoid being the made-to-order cook in your house. It is exhausting enough being a parent and cooking dinner, but when you have to cook a different meal for each of your children it can be even more exhausting.
The second theory is that you feed what your children want, whether it is mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, or hot dogs, you make them what they want so that there is no fussing or fighting to try to get them to eat.
Many parents choose to mix these two theories together and use both interchangeably. Some nights you may know that your children will not want what you are having so you may choose to let them pick what they are eating on that day. Other days you may make your children eat what you are eating because you know they like it. When you mix the two theories, your children may begin to choose to eat some of the meals that you enjoy too, such as tacos or pasta.
While you may not want your child to go to bed without eating dinner, it is important to know that they aren’t going to starve if they refuse to eat dinner. At Yellow Brick Road, our students are eating all day long. We feed them breakfast, two snacks, and lunch, and there is always something that they will like and be able to eat during those times. So if you are battling with them over dinner and they choose not to eat, don’t fight them. It may even help them to realize that it’s not fun skipping dinner and next time they will eat what is on their plate.
Tips to Tackle Theory One
While it may be easier to make your children what they want, it can get difficult when each of your children wants something different. If you are a parent who wants your children to eat what you eat because you know it’s healthier and a well-balanced meal or you simply don’t want to make multiple meals, we wanted to give you some tips on how to go about it and make it work.
Tip 1: Plan a Healthy Snack
If you want your child to eat what you are eating but they don’t want to eat whatever it is that you cooked, it is likely that you still don’t want them going to bed hungry. Planning an alternative healthy snack to give them before bed is a great option for parents. Instead of just having them eat a bowl of cereal, give them an apple. While you don’t want them to get used to this, it’s a good way to make sure they eat something healthy.
Another great way to do this is to pick one alternative that all of your kids get if they choose not to eat. Choose something on the healthier side and something not exciting so that they don’t purposefully choose not to eat dinner. Bread and peanut butter or an apple with peanut butter is a great option. Your children may not like certain meals, so when they choose not to eat, they can know exactly what they will be eating instead.
Tip 2: Pre-plan With Kids
Kids respond well to routine and by pre-planning your meals for the week and letting them know what you are going to have, they are prepared to eat whatever you are cooking. Each day, be sure to tell what you are cooking for dinner that night so that they know and are not surprised by it. Kids get cravings too and they will be disappointed if they are craving mac and cheese only to find out you made tacos for dinner when they get home. By telling them what you are making, they can be prepared to eat that.
Tip 3: Be Aware of Serving Sizes
Children eat much less than we do. When you are feeding your child the same foods you are making for dinner, remember that their serving sizes should be much smaller. A good rule to follow is one tablespoon for each year of age and about three different foods. An example of this is if your child is three years old, they should get three tablespoons of chicken, three tablespoons of corn, and three tablespoons of mac and cheese. By making sure you are giving your child proper serving sizes, they are more likely to eat it because it is not a daunting amount of food.
Tip 4: Reserve The Food
When children don’t want to eat something, they will often tell you that they aren’t hungry or that they are full. When this happens, tell them that they can sit and talk with the family for a little bit and if they get hungry later they can have their dinner. Your child will often tell you later that they are hungry and they want an apple sauce or cereal. This is when you can tell them that you still have their dinner and you will heat it back up for them. This allows you to set a boundary and let your children understand that the meal you made is what you are eating tonight and they will eat the same thing if they are hungry. By reoffering the meal you made, they will realize that they can’t say they aren’t hungry just to get what they want later.
Tip 5: Get Children Involved
Getting kids involved in the cooking process is a great way to get your children to eat what you cook for dinner. They will be proud of the work they did to help you make dinner and will be really excited to eat it without fussing. Getting your children involved in the cooking process is also a great educational tool. They can learn where their food comes from, understand how to measure things, and so much more.
With the tip of getting your children involved in the cooking process, our team at Yellow Brick Road is excited to announce that we have started a YBR Cooking With Your Kids show. You can follow along with your children and cook these meals and baked goods together! This is a fun way to spend time together and help your picky eaters feel excited about eating what they help make.
We hope these tips help make dinner time with your children easier. Remember, one method is not better than the other and sometimes mixing the two theories is what is best for your family. If you have more questions feel free to contact Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center today!