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Tips on surviving Christmas with a fussy eater

 
Is your toddler or preschooler a fussy eater? It can be stressful at the best of times trying to find food that they’ll eat, but with the Christmas holidays just around the corner you may experience added pressure. However, there are some great ways to support your toddler or preschooler to help avoid some of the flash points that can dampen your Christmas cheer.
Is your toddler or preschooler a fussy eater?

It can be stressful at the best of times trying to find food that they’ll eat, but with the Christmas holidays just around the corner you may experience added pressure. Especially if you’re out and about, going away on holiday or catching up with friends over the festive season.

However, there are some great ways to support your toddler or preschooler to help avoid some of the flash points that can dampen your Christmas cheer.
 

Tips on surviving Christmas with a fussy eater


1. RELAX

We are our child’s most important relationship, so how we feel around food and feeding greatly influences  ow they behave. As challenging as it is to not worry about food around Christmas, the more we stress the more likely your toddler or preschooler will too.

2. PRE-EMPT

We all have well-meaning friends and relatives who like to ‘help’ us parent. Where you can, make a quick phone call or send an email to explain that as much as you are working on supporting your child to eat more variety of foods, Christmas is not the time to do this.

3. EXPECTATIONS

If we have a toddler or preschooler that eats no meat, no sauces and no vegetables, the chances of them looking forward to a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings is slim. Instead, treat each meal with realistic expectations to help to avoid disappointment and frustration.

4. ENJOYMENT

Holidays are for the enjoyment of everyone. This is especially true of Christmas Day. A time for toddlers and preschoolers to be excited about what they’re going to eat. Does it really matter if they choose cheese and crackers over meat and veges for just one day?

5. EXPLAIN

Knowing what to expect can be very comforting for a toddler or preschooler who is anxious around food. Explain what’s going to happen and how you are going to support them. This can enable them to relax. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they are to eat.

6. ROUTINES

Having routines, even on holidays, is very comforting for children. If lunches and evening meals are going to be more ad hoc, then plan for a familiar and predictable breakfast. For a lot of picky eaters this is an easier meal. Making sure they are eating well first thing allows you to relax a little during the day.

7. PLAN

Travelling or spending time with friends and relatives can send timing and menus totally off to left field. We have all been to a dinner where food doesn’t arrive until 9.00pm – eek! Make sure you make provision for those times when food isn’t going to be served in time or where the menu doesn’t tick boxes for your toddler or preschooler. A low pressure way to do this is to bring a shared plate to social events. It enables your children to eat without inconveniencing anyone else or drawing attention to their eating habits.

8. FAMILIARITY

We are always more comfortable when we’re around things that we’re familiar with. This applies to both objects and food. If your toddler or preschooler has a favourite plate or cutlery, bring them along. This can help bridge a discomfort gap. With food we can do this by ensuring there are always things at the table that they recognise.

9. AUTONOMY

Your toddler or preschooler is more likely to eat if they feel they have some control. Allow them to choose which foods to put onto their plate. You can set some boundaries so they don’t come back with just a pile of cookies! If we are serving, then small portions are always less overwhelming than big piles of food.

10. BOUNDARIES

Set some firm guidelines around mealtimes to create certainty for the whole family. For example, everyone stays at the table for 15 minutes and participates in the celebrations, even if they are not eating. Or stating ‘we won’t be having any more food for the next 2 hours so please make sure you’ve had enough to eat’.

Source: This article was kindly written for us by The Confident Eater - giving you the tools, the strategies and the confidence to get your picky eater eating.
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