To Eat or Not to Eat that is the Question

Little Pumpkin

Remember the days when your baby would cry and you would know they needed one of the following : diaper change, burping, or the boob. Now that LP is a toddler she is always begging for snacks. Always “food?”, Soon followed by a temper tantrum when the answer is no; But how do you know if your toddler is really hungry or just wants to snack.

For Toddlers ( ages 1-3)

Daily calories needed: 1,200-1,400

With toddlers when they are eating lunch or dinner and they tell you that they are full and they have eaten a good amount of food on the plate trust them they know. It’s natural for a toddlers appetite to change day-to-day. one day they may want to eat everything on the plate the next not so much. Research done at the University of California, San Francisco, Up to 85 percent of parents say don’t listen to their kids when they say they are full and push them to eat more (‘two more bites”) , giving them praise for having a couple more bites. This could lead to your child eating when they aren’t hungry. As a child I remember going to my grand parents house for dinner and we weren’t allowed to leave the table until out plates were clean, making us apart of the exclusive “clean plate club”. As an adult I still struggle listening to my body when I am full and not feel like I have to finish everything on my plate. Talk about your classical conditioning. So when I became a parent I knew from the beginning that clean plate would not be a requirement in my childrens lives.  Don’t get me wrong if my kid takes two bites and says All done I know the last time she at was a snack at 2 and it is now 6pm she is hungry, but if she eats most of whats on her plate yeah I’ll listen and tall her good job. If your full you are full no sweets after dinner (fruit, apple sauce, cookies, ect….).  A study done at the University of Pennsylvania found that many over weight 5 to 12 year olds aren’t receptive to their own hunger cues. Helping your child to stay aware whether they are hungry or full may go a long way to prevent obesity.

At lunch time LP eats in the living room at the coffee table with her Little chair. We don’t do this because she wants to watch tv but because she is a toddler and it’s the middle of the day. she will eat a little see a toy she wants to play with then go back to her food and eat some more. Didn’t you know toddlers have busy schedules mid day lot’s of playing to fit in before that nap. so with a PB&J sandwich and some fruit and carrot sticks that gives LP to eat food that wont get cold and still taste good even though she is grazing. As time has gone by doing this I have noticed that LP will spend more and more time eating at one time and taking fewer and fewer play breaks. While this is happening she is learning to sit at the table and eat so when we go places (friends and familys houses for dinner, Restaurants) I have noticed she isn’t as fussy to stay at the table and eat.

At Dinner I do strap her in to the high chair for a few reasons. At the tail end of cooking dinner the house is filled with yummy smells and this kicks LP hunger in high gear resulting her at my feet begging for food. So I strap her in to the high chair and hive her a coloring book with some crayons. This way she knows that I am not ignoring her request and that food is coming soon. She gets to distract herself from the hunger with an activity , and I know she isn’t going to color on the walls or wood floors so I can concentrate on dinner. Finally the high chair is at the same level as the dinning room table so we can eat as a family and she can feel apart of it.

Kids can’t tell time so sticking to a schedule is important we keep meals and snacks about three hours apart. Breakfast at 6:30am ( know she is a early riser) a Healthy snack at 9:30 Lunch at 12:30 followed by a nap, a sweets snack (cookies, fruit snacks) at 3:30 and dinner a little after 6pm. We never really have problems with LP napping because she knows that after lunch comes a nap. keeping your kids on a schedule not only keeps your kid at a healthy by “normalizing hunger, but it helps them to know whats coming next in the day giving them a sense of security.

I know every parent has tried it but giving food as a bribe is a no no. Example: Lp was upset a toy had been taken from her from one of her little friends. She was mad! so she decided to throw a temper tantrum. Hubbys solution. He offers her food because he know thats the fail safe no matter what LP will be happy if you give her food. She is a eater what can I say. When I heard him offer her a treat. I said A. you are rewarding her for throwing a TT. And B. that could lead to emotional eating. He laughed at me “emotional eating?!”. He thought I was off my rocker. “She is two.” he said. Then My friend and I explained that emotional eating is psychological and if when she is disappointed as a child and you give her food to make her feel better, as an adult she will eat when she is upset. A lot of parents use food as reward and or trying to get their kid to do something they want for food. when you do this you are sending the wrong message about food. While some parents do this from time to time for short periods claim success it’s no good to use it in excess.

Bribing your kids to eat veggies is no good as well. toddlers tastes change a lot. one week LP loves cooked carrots the next she wont touch them. just because they don’t want to eat it doesn’t mean you should try to make them eat it, they will probably eat it next week and hate something else. being mindful of what your kid doesn’t want to eat week to week and just giving a different veggie they will eat will save you from wasting food and from tears (yours and your little one 🙂 )

Well I hope this helps you on this crazy adventure we call parenting. If you have more questions, or any feed back about this post  please feel free to leave a comment we love getting feed back from our readers and members.

~Leticia 🙂

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