Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nom, Nom, Ninner time.


Stella has taken to shouting out "Ninner ninner ninner!" in a very cute tune when she knows dinner is ready, or is anticipating its arrival. This is a significant change from the dinner time dramas we were having two months ago.

Stella would refuse to eat anything that wasn't mashed, or familiar. If it looked new, forget it. It would get thrown and screamed at. For three whole weeks she lived off nothing but yogurt and crackers and I was beginning to get very, very, very frustrated. Dinner time was dreaded in our household. After doing a little research and speaking to our local Child Health Nurse, I felt reassured that her food strikes were quite normal, and with a bit of encouragement would most likely correct themselves. I read a lot of information and received lots of advice that just seemed like common sense, but didn't actually work regardless. In the end, I threw away the rule book and sat down with pen and paper.

I analysed our dinner time antics, trying to pinpoint problems and reflect on rare successes. I wrote list after list of foods that were disliked, rejected, not yet tried and well loved. I then wrote a big grocery list and highlighted some meal ideas in a government funded information booklet I had received. Armed with an abundance of food ideas and new found inspiration, I was ready to tackle the D time. I had the resources to help me through this horrid phase, but what I couldnt find in a book was my attitude. I knew that Stella was picking up on my frustrations and stress which was in turn making our troubles worse. With a deep breath and a fresh mind, I honestly think that over 50% of our new found happily munching toddler came from mamas attitude change.

I thought I would share with you some of the ideas I had and changes we made in our household that have got us to this final point of success. Some may be different to what you have read in your mad frustration fuelled google searches and I hope that maybe I can give you some sense of relief that it will get better. Sometimes reading advice from the 'experts' can be more disheartening than helpful, I am no expert...Just a mother like you, hanging out for drink at the end of a long toddler taming day (well, a mocktail in my case)

Dreaded Dinner Time tips...

* Rest assured how normal this is. Be it caused by teething, new-found independence or a developmental phase...It is normal.

* Remember that all children are different. Little Freddy down the road may eat wonderfully every day, but little Freddy isn't your little Johnny.

* Resist the urge to show anger or frustration in front of your child, this will only harbour negativity during meal times and children very quickly pick up tension, making dinner anticipation stressful for all.

* Pretend not to be phased. Try to adjust your attitude; even if it means faking it. Sing songs whilst cooking dinner, do a special 'dinner dance', get overly excited about the colours of certain fruits and vegetables. It may not seem like its working, but it will make a difference eventually.

* consider the eating environment. Is the child too far away from the rest of the family? Too close to a television or playroom? Also consider eating times, Is your baby too tired? Simply not hungry enough? If possible, can you eat alongside them? 

* Practice what you preach. Yep, that means eating all your veggies too ma! And not pushing your peas to the side, otherwise you'll have a toddler making airplaine noises whilst directing them up your nose.

* Never underestimate the power of a bright new bowl and a funky new spoon. Boon have beautifully bright colours and suction on the bottom of bowls to prevent spaghetti style wall paper.

* Praise, Praise, Praise! If your child does eventually (usually in their own time) try something new or finally eat all that potato, praise them wholeheartedly. Stickers are great treats, as are cuddles and kisses. Sometimes a little sweet treat is totally warranted too...shhhh.. I won't tell anyone!

If all else fails, visit your Child Health Nurse or Doctor and get some advice from an outsider. Avoid talking to other mothers in too much detail about what their children eat, you'll find yourself unnecessarily comparing and worrying. Do however, ask about sneaky little tips and tricks that may have worked for them.

How did you survive the food wars of toddlerhood? Was there a piece of advice that stuck with you and helped you through?

Happy, messy, toddler 'ninner' time!

No comments:

Post a Comment