Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mixed messages on healthy eating anyone?

I've been reading a Canadian book on planning mealtimes for toddlers - I won't name it because I wouldn't recommend it - but it struck me again how hard it is to get a straight answer on healthy eating for kids.

I actually thought I was going to really like this book because it went to great lengths up front to explain that all families manage food and mealtimes differently, and that other parents will say things that sound judgemental about what you choose to do, but that you just have to make a call about what path you will take and stick to it.

This seems like important advice to me as you definitely will hear at some point from another parent "I would never feed my child that!" or "We don't let her eat any of that plastic food" or "my child will eat absolutely anything". I myself have been told that "kids love steamed vegies" which made me wonder why Leo wouldn't even touch them. All these statements will undoubtedly make you feel bad about how well you manage feeding your kid.

However, then the book goes on to make some calls that will also make you feel bad about your choices like: you should never, ever feed a toddler raisins or sausages unless they are chopped into tiny pieces as they are choking hazards (bad me), don't let your kids anywhere near a tree nut before the age of five because of the risk to themselves and others (fail) and that you should never use food as a reward or bribe (I've already confessed to that one). Later it says that you will "obviously have ditched watching tv during mealtimes already" and "surely that's what you both would want for your child" which just made me both feel guilty for still doing it myself and hope that no single parent would spend their spare time reading this book.

The good thing about this book is that it was a reminder not to be preachy to other people about what your toddler will and won't eat. There is a quote from a mum in the book that says "some mothers will boast to you about what different foods their kid will eat or how much they can pack away" - I am definitely guilty of proudly telling people that Leo will eat 21 little banana pancakes for breakfast on the weekend and I can see how that could be annoying.

It also reminded me to stick to my guns and ignore unhelpful advice. So if there is anything that I write that annoys you or doesn't at all fit with your experiences - just ignore me, I won''t mind!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't eat me! New vegie tactics

Just thought I'd share a quick tactic that my very creative husband has been using with some success this week -he gives the vegies voices and makes them scream "Don't eat me! Don't eat me!". For some reason this makes Leo desperate to eat them. Admittedly this doesn't work for many mouthfuls of the things Leo doesn't like but one snow pea is better than no snow peas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet, sweet bribery...

High up in the long list of "things I would never do when I was a parent" was bribing a child with food. As has happened with most other items on this list, I have had to cross it off this week!

After a significant period of bath refusal, I finally caved and told Leo he could have an icy-pole (or in his words 'a big one') if he would get in the bath. On the first evening it worked and I rejoiced in my cunning succcess. On the second evening it failed and resulted in an almighty tantrum "I want a big one...I want a big one".

Admittedly the only reason I caved on the bribery issue was that I recently read Joshua Gans' "Parentonomics" in which he has moderate success using what he describes as incentives: jellybeans helped the kids get toilet trained and the promise of dessert helped kids get through their vegies. Clearly Joshua's children are more receptive to the food rewards or the tasks are not so terrifying as Leo finds the bath.

In good news, Mr Williams managed to talk Leo into having a shower tonight with no icypoles involved at all. Phew!