by Tara Sallee MS, RD, LD, Hy-Vee Corporate Dietitian
What is a parent to do when they are in the thick of mealtime meltdowns? Luckily, there is a wide variety of tips and tricks to best navigate feeding toddlers. Welcome to low-stress mealtimes that will set your child up for success with eating while building a happy and healthy relationship with food.
So where does mealtime struggle stem from? Research shows pressuring a child to eat will create more resistance and leads to pickier eating. “Pressure” comes in various forms. It may look like begging your child to eat just one more bite, trying to convince your child that something is good, telling them they can’t have dessert until they eat their vegetables, or telling them they can’t leave the table until their plate is empty. In a high-pressure environment, the child doesn’t feel safe to try new foods. Research shows when parents are overinvolved with their children’s eating, these children are more likely to turn into adults with food issues. So what is the solution for avoiding these issues with food at the table?
Rather than begging or forcing, the long-term approach for less stressful mealtimes is actually to be overly relaxed about eating. Aim for a very low-stress environment where mealtimes can really be for a time to bond and a time to form healthy food relationships. The goal is to have a table that is a safe place to learn, explore and grow – the goal is not perfection but to set up an environment to support a child’s journey in learning how to eat to honor their body rather than our expectations as parents.
The Golden Rule for mealtimes is the Division of Responsibility: The parent provides, and the child decides.
Tropical Toddler Smoothie
All you need:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen mango chunks
5 frozen whole strawberries
½ cup orange juice
1 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds
All you do:
Recipe source: Hy-Vee Dietitians
Connect with Hy-Vee dietitians by visiting https://www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians to learn more about our children’s classes and programming.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
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