Toddler Food Fads!

Mo Mo is 3 and just recently we've been through a tough time with her not wanting to eat her evening meal. In my usual style of parenting I have obsessed over this for some time and decided that I'll use the same rule of thumb  as I used when teaching my classes:- whatever the problem is, it's not the child who needs 'fixing', it is up to the teacher (or in this case, parent!) to change the way they do things, in order to get it right for the child.
This has coincided with me planning menus for my new childminding business, so it's doubly important. I have come across the website The School Food Trust which has some brilliant publications that you can download. Particularly interesting and helpful are the publications about children in the early years- Eat Better, Start Better.  The Eat Better, Start Better project involves:
"The new Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England help early years providers and practitioners meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) welfare requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink. Following these national food and drink guidelines will help providers and practitioners meet the nutritional requirements of children aged one to five years attending early years settings. "

"A healthy balanced diet for children aged one to five yearsbased on the four food groups listed below, which provide a range of essential nutrients that children need to grow and develop:
Starchy foods
Fruit and vegetables
Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
Milk and dairy foods
The food and drink guidelines describe how often, how much, and which types of food from each of the four food groups below should be provided for children aged one to five years. Following these guidelines will help to make sure that the food and drink provided for children is healthy, balanced and nutritious."

The menu plans show you how much of a child’s daily energy and nutritional requirements each sample meal provides. It really made me realise just how important breakfast is and also how young children need carefully planned snacks mid morning and afternoon. Mo Mo sometimes has a 3-4 course breakfast!

The checklist really made me think about drinks- I have been guilty of allowing fruit squash in between meals, however, the guidelines advise fruit juice, diluted half water and half juice with a meal and any drinks in between meals to be milk or water only. Also, dried fruit is advised only with meals rather than as a separate snack due to its high sugar content.

Back to Mo Mo and our evening meal woes! Things are getting better. I am offering her a really small portion (one tablespoonful)  to begin with so as not to overface her. I'm not feeling as anxious if she doesn't eat too much at her evening meal as I realise that it balances out over the week and also, the carefully planned snacks I'm offering in the afternoon are ensuring that she is being nourished towards the end of the day! I have also found that asking her to help me to prepare meals makes her more enthusiastic to try the foods that I offer her.
100 Days Of Real Food- A brilliant food blog jam packed with great ideas for all the family, based around cutting out processed foods.

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