Last week I mentioned on Facebook how Jay was in a super bad rut with eating. All I could seem to get him to eat were chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs and cold cereal. While I definitely don't think there is anything wrong with either of those foods, I was getting really frustrated that those were the only things he was eating. All things in moderation right?
So I read some articles online, and a couple books, and did what any new mom would do, seek the advice of those who came before her on Facebook. Seriously, I'm so glad to have so many great Mothers as friends on Facebook to give me advice... I don't know what I'd do without each and everyone of you sometimes!
Anyways, after getting tons of advice from so many different resources, I decided that I had to do a self evaluation. I asked myself, "What do I do as a parent that I'm really great at?" Which may sound like a really self centered thing to ask, but I'm sure we're all great in at least one area. For me, my answer was sleeping. My kids both sleep through the night pretty regularly which is a good thing to be able to say when you have a two month old at home.
I then asked myself, "What is the biggest contributing factor as to why that one area is so on point?" My answer to that question was... consistency. I think with parenting (from my meager two years experience), that consistency is what will really help you in almost any area that might be lacking to some degree.
For us we never really had a consistent routine with eating. We never had real designated meal times. I used let Jay snack whenever he wants. As soon as he started making preferences with what he does and does not like, I became more focused on "at least he's eating" rather than what he was eating.
So I made a bunch of harsh changes all in one day, and it all went over pretty well. (As in Jay really didn't care and went along with everything I was doing) The first thing that I had to do was eat healthy myself. I was expecting Jay to eat fruits and vegetable all the time, but wasn't doing it myself. Why should I expect Jay to eat well if I'm not? (Side note- I hate eating produce because the thought of eating food that was once covered in dirt and had bugs on it literally makes me feel ill... I'm working on getting over it). The next thing I did was established set meal times. Breakfast first thing in the morning, lunch at noon, dinner at five. One snack allowed after nap time. All meals are now eaten at the table, rather than whatever room Jay happens to be in at the time.
I also have Jay involved in helping me make every meal, which he absolutely LOVES! When I tell Jay it's time to make some food, he now runs to the closet where the step stool is and sets it up for himself at the counter where I make our meals. I have him help me measure and pour ingredients, stir things, and he's even pretty good at sprinkling cheese. I think he feels a sense of accomplishment eating the foods that he helped make!
So what did my "picky eater" eat the first day all these changes were made? A pumpkin muffin, scrambled eggs, an apple, whole wheat crackers, salami (all natural I promise), a cheese stick, an orange, an enchilada, beans, and brown rice. Along with two glasses of milk, vegetable juice, and water throughout the day. It was seriously like night and day! And his eating has been great and full of variety ever since!
So in summary the things that helped the most were, setting set meal times, always eating at the table, letting Jay help make the food, and me eating the same things that we have Jay eat. It's seriously been working really well! Hopefully this helps someone else going through this glorious stage of toddlerhood.
And because I know someone will ask... no, we don't make him eat everything on his plate. We let him eat as much or as little as he wants. He does still waste food, which drives me crazy sometimes. And while he has turned down foods over the last few days while doing this, he usually at least touches, or licks it. Which still makes me happy because I want to encourage him feeling and getting used to different textures.
Meanwhile, Em's still adorable,
and Jay likes cheese,
What do you do to encourage your child to eat?