Between picky eaters, ever-changing food preferences, fickle appetites and hangry tantrums, feeding a young child can be a daunting task. As a parent or caregiver, you want to nurture your child, help them build a healthy relationship with food and stay calm during those stressful mealtime moments. Not an easy feat!

Picky eating usually sets in around the 18-month mark, when babies enter a developmental stage called pre-operational thinking and become more curious about the world, including food, registered dietitian and feeding therapist he said Whole Almond Bushel.

“They enter a brain developmental stage called ‘food neophobia,’ which is a true fear of food,” Bushell, who specializes in infant and child nutrition, told HuffPost. “This triggers the adrenaline response – fight, flight, freeze – and is thought to harken back to the days of our cavemen when curious little guys could accidentally poison themselves by putting non-edible items in their mouths. Think poisonous berries.

Most children grow out of this phase around the age of 4 or 5. But “when parents panic and try all kinds of tricks and gimmicks to get their kids to eat, it can make fussy eating worse and prolong the phase,” Bushell said.

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Feeding a small baby can be a daunting task. These tips can make it easier.

To constructively address common sources of children’s food tantrums, Registered Dietitian Alyssa Miller Ready Five “Pocket Phrases” When to Feed Kids — A list of smart-yet-simple responses parents can whip up to prevent a meltdown.

,For me, when my kids are hungry — or rather hungover — or broke, my mind will go blank,” says Miller, a mother of three who runs @nutrition.for.littles Instagram account, told HuffPost. “It is very difficult to think of what to say when your child is upset. Your mama is heartbroken, and you want to make the best of the situation.

Miller said she came up with these pocket phrases because they are easy to remember and help “create some distance and calmness in the moment” but still adhere to her parenting values.

Here are five good phrases to keep it handy:

1. “It’s okay, you don’t need to eat it.”

When your child refuses to eat something on his plate, take it out.

“Often toddlers will yell ‘Nooo!’ or ‘Yucky!’ When they see something they don’t want to eat,” Miller said. “So it’s a great way to level the playing field and take the stress out of it.”

He’s noticed that sometimes when you take the pressure off Happen To eat a particular food, the child feels more freedom around his choice and can decide to take a bite.

“I still use it with my 7-year-old,” Miller said. “They just want to know that they are in charge of what’s going on in their bodies, and this reinforces that.”

2. “It looks delicious. It’s not on the menu today, but maybe next week.”

Use this response when you make one dish, but your kids ask for another.

“We usually see kids asking about their favorites and things we’ve deemed ‘kid food’ — mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, buttered noodles, pizza, etc.,” Miller said.

“They just want to know that they are in charge of what’s going on in their bodies.”

– Alyssa Miller, Registered Dietitian

When you’ve already planned a meal or snack, tell your child that the meal they’re requesting isn’t on the menu for today, but it will be available to them again soon.

“It can reduce the stress they might feel about not getting that food today,” Miller said.

3. “Looks like you’re all done. We can try again later.”

When your child’s mealtime behavior is not up to your expectations, remove it. They may be repeatedly throwing food on the floor, fiddling in their chair, or yelling.

Sometimes eliminating a food is the best course of action, Miller said. You might even want to scream in frustration, but try to breathe and stay calm.

“Letting them know that the behavior they’re exhibiting is communicating that all they’ve done is effective in teaching them that it’s not just our words but our actions,” she said.

“Letting them know calmly that we can try again later takes any shame out of the behavior and lets them know you’re on their team and we can work together to figure it out.” That’s how to have a successful meal afterward when emotions aren’t that high.”

4. “Check your gut. We won’t eat again until dinner.

Does your child only take a bite of their snack or barely touch their plate at lunch? Try this pocket phrasebook to help you get in sync with their hunger cues.

“When they’ve decided they’re all done with food, we want to gently remind them to check in with their bodies, which teaches them over time that their bodies can communicate with them. . All they have to do is listen,” Miller said. “Then when they have the next meal, we set the expectation and let them be involved in the planning, which is very helpful when we stick to a consistent meal and snack routine.” are.”

Eventually, they will learn to eat during these designated times and develop an appetite in between.

“Of course, it often takes time and gentle reminders!” Miller added.

5. “Hmm, looks like we’re all out. I’ll put that on the list.”

Running out of your child’s favorite snack can be frustrating, which can sometimes lead to meltdowns. Try answering with this phrase to minimize the blow.

“Reminding them that we can ‘put it on the list’ takes the stress out of the situation, because many little ones can’t understand that just because we’re out now doesn’t mean we can eat that food.” Will never eat again,” Miller said. “Their brain is developing but often cannot predict what will happen in the future.”

You want your child to know that you can stock up during your next grocery trip.

“When we teach them that those foods are not gone forever, it can end the tantrum and help them learn that food is not scarce and more will come,” Miller said.

Putting These Phrases to Work for Your Family

To build trust, be sure to follow through on food promises you make to your kids.

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To build trust, be sure to follow through on food promises you make to your kids.

The key is to use these pocket phrases consistently and to follow through on your promises to your kids around mealtimes. In other words, if you say you’re going to add goldfish to your grocery list, you’ll need to buy goldfish the next time you’re at the store. Similarly, if you say you’ll be adding pizza to the menu next week, you have to actually serve pizza. It builds your kids’ access to food and trust in your relationship, Miller said.

Once you’ve established trust, these phrases can help calm your child in the heat of the moment. But, of course, they won’t work 100% of the time. Even adults sometimes have hangry meltdowns.

“These phrases help us reset expectations and communicate how mealtimes and meals work in our household.”

– Miller

“It’s normal and okay to be disappointed when your favorite food isn’t available, and you were looking forward to it,” Miller said. “Just last week, my husband ate the leftovers that I had planned to have for lunch, and I was not very happy about it. Often big feelings arise from unfulfilled expectations from our little ones. These phrases help us reset expectations and explain how mealtimes and meals work in our household.

While Miller’s five phrases cover common situations, they won’t address every issue that may arise. So you can even come up with your own pocket phrases for frequent conflicts in your home.

“When you identify a consistent trigger for your little one to melt at the table, it’s time to find a pocket phrase that you can remember and repeat,” says Miller.



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