At just a few months old, we introduce our children to solid foods. Although many babies spit out the first spoonfuls, most quickly take to the new fare with ease and vigor. They all but scream FEED ME!" when mealtimes roll around and they are introduced to the new and exciting world of pureed vegetables and fruit.
We as parents are tricked into a false sense of security that we've got this down. We smugly think about all of those other parents who struggle and toil at the dinner table, night after night. Clearly, they haven't figured this out like we have, we think to ourselves. We confidently give advice to worn-from-the-battle parents.
And then one day it happens.
It starts with a small, simple refusal. Maybe it comes when they are 10 months old. Maybe 15 months. Maybe 2 years old. But it comes. OH IT COMES. The small refusals turn into all-out battle of the wills. Chicken for dinner? Nope. Pasta? Yeah right. I used to like applesauce? Not anymore, sister. No, the child says. I'm going to keep you on your toes until you break.
I was lulled into this very same false parenting sense of security when Chica was just under a year. Up until then, she happily ate most things I put in front of her. It started with turning up her nose at certain vegetables. Then some fruits. And then it was anyone's guess at what she would eat. I remember long stand-off mealtimes. We both left in tears. As a parent I take very seriously the responsibility of nourishing my children, and part of this means making sure they are well fed with healthy food. And for a season in her life, I thought I was all but going to lose the battle.
Parents must learn to adapt to survive this Picky Eater Stage. It comes with time, experience and exhaustion. In the heat of the Food War, I tried many things to find victory with Chica's eating. And overtime, I made progress. She ate more at meals, tried new things and now, at the age of 4 and-a-half, she eats well at almost every meal with no problems.
Yes friends. That is victory.
After my battles with Chica, I went into Bug's solid food adventures with a little more flexibility. I had experience on my side and a few tricks up my sleeve. Is every night a breeze with Bug? Absolutely not. But my mindset is better and I know it is, in fact, a season.
Here are a few things I learned about dealing with Picky Eaters:
It is a SeasonAs with all things in parenting, keeping the mindset that this Picky Eating is a season is half the battle. My pediatrician said that some kids seem to survive on air sometimes. It's true. As long as they are gaining weight and you are keeping your doctor in the loop, being consistent will help you get through this season!
RelaxThis goes hand-in-hand with the advice from above. But if your kids see you get frustrated and tense up, they will feed off of it (no pun intended). Relax. Be flexible. Your patience will help immensely during mealtime.
Make eating funI love all of these websites dedicated to food art for kids. I'm not nearly creative enough, but I've given it a whirl. Some parents make entire scenes on a plate, others make themed lunches out of muffin tins. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Sometimes something as simple as Tyson Dino Nuggets are enough to break the monotony and kick mealtime up a notch! Tyson is even offering a free Nugget Face Plate on their Facebook page. Just send your requests in by March 31. Meal time just got more fun!
Offer something they will eatI didn't want to get into the habit of making my kids a separate meal each night, plus I wanted them to eat healthy. So I've made it a habit to offer them a little bit of what we are eating every night. And after they've had a few bites, they are always allowed to have something they do like, such as yogurt, applesauce or diced fruit. It encourages them to try new things but gives me a sense of confidence that they are still eating healthy.
I'm still in the battle many days, but having these tricks in my arsenal really help us make Food Progress!
So remember: RELAX. Remember it is a SEASON. Offer something they DO like. And MAKE EATING FUN!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Chicken Nuggets. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.