Is My Kid A Normal Eater?

Toddlers and preschoolers tend not to eat how we think they “should.”  In fact, they tend not to do much of anything how we think they should.  Like how I thought my 4-year-old should lay quietly in his bed during nap-time yesterday when he thought is would be better to sneak scissors, give his stuffed animals haircuts and then cut off his little sister’s pony tail.  But that’s another blog for another time.  Back to how our munchkins make us crazy with their eating habits.  Young kids don’t eat according to My Plate charts, food group goals or serving sizes.  They can be ravenous one day and seem to run solely off the energy they got from two crackers and a spoonful of applesauce the next.  So, what’s typical?  And when should you be worried? Our kids all have vast and varied eating temperaments.  It’s important to acknowledge that kiddos will naturally eat differently based on their unique personalities.  With that in mind, all of these behaviors or within the realm of “typical” or “normal” when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers: Many kiddos do not eat set amounts day in and day out.  Instead of looking at how they are eating each day, look at their diets over the course of a week.  Chances are that they natural balance out pretty well. Most young kiddos prefer carbohydrates.  It’s age-appropriate that your kid only wants pasta (or bread or mashed potatoes).  This preference tends to go away as kids mature. Many young children change preferred foods on a whim.  They may suddenly refuse what was their favorite yesterday. Their...

Food Jags… When To Freak Out

Ever had a toddler that only wanted to eat one thing?  Mac & Cheese for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snack in between.  Or just berries.  Or only Eggo waffles.  It’s called a food jag and it’s a perfectly normal part of development.  Most pass within a few days-weeks and aren’t really a cause for concern.  When you think about it, adults have mini food jags too.  We crave chicken salad sandwiches for a week or two and then forget about them and move on.  We just know that we can’t only eat chicken salad sandwiches so we add other things to our cravings.  But in a toddler’s mind, there’s no good reason why they can’t eat their very favorite food-of-the-week all the time.  So, that’s what they try to do.  Food jags are frustrating, but also scary when you’re parenting a kid who may come with a history of food issues.  The multiple issues that adoptive and foster parents work through with their kiddos can make food jags especially difficult to work through. Here’s some tips if you have a toddler who is stuck on one food: Don’t stress out!  Most food jags pass if you don’t freak out about them.  In fact, freaking out could be the very thing that makes it last longer because it’s fun for toddlers to control their parents’ emotions.  So, take deep breaths and pretend like you don’t notice. Don’t change how you feed.  Continue to put regular, balanced meals and snacks on the table and don’t stress out that your kiddo is only choosing to eat one thing from what you...

Why You Should Ignore Your Picky Eater

Having a child who is a “picky” or “selective” eater can cause a lot of stress.  We all want our kiddos to get the nutrition they need, so, when they start pushing aside the veggies and turning their noses up at anything but goldfish and chicken nuggets, we start to freak out.  This is especially true when we’re talking about kids who may already have nutrient deficiencies or other health concerns. So, what’s a parent to do?  Ignore it!  No, don’t ignore the issue entirely, but do your best to ignore the picky eating when it’s happening.  Nagging, pressuring, pleading, begging, bribing and the like do little to improve a child’s eating habits.  In fact, when those tactics are used during the family dinner, it makes most kids dig in their heals.  And it makes mealtime a battle ground instead of a time for your family to come together. When a kid senses that his eating is the focus of the meal, he has a powerful bargaining chip that he can use to control that time.  So, do your best to ignore what he is (or isn’t) eating.  Talk about the day, talk about school, talk about life and let him decide what he will or will not eat.  This creates a healthy mealtime environment that allows a “picky” eater to relax and observe others enjoying food.  When the focus is off of what they will eat, many kids are actually more willing to try new stuff. Listen to some advice that Dr. Rowell writes in her book Love Me, Feed Me: “You may have to fake this at first,...