Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dinner for Bug

I was recently asked-

"Wondering how you go about dinner time at your house? I have a constant battle with my 3 1/2 yr old son to eat dinner. I wont make him but the thing is it gets late and 9pm rolls around and he is hungry when he should be getting ready for bed if not already asleep. "

Bug is 2 years old. He is able to open the fridge and pantry by himself, so I have the crisper drawer full of snacks he can get himself- apples, carrots, clementines, etc.- and the lowest shelf in the pantry stocked the same way- breads, raisins, almonds, etc. I also keep a cup of water on the table for him all day. This way he's able to eat any time he's hungry, even if I'm busy in the middle of something. I think listening to his body is highly important.

When dinner rolls around I make him a plate with whatever I made and round it out with other options, so he'll end up with a big plate of little bits of lots of things. I shoot for something orange, something green, some sort of berry, a protein, a starch, and a dairy option. I then refill whatever options he's most interested in as he finishes them off. Some days he wants it all, some days none of it, and everything in between. I think the key is respecting his authority over what goes into his body, providing him choices I'm okay with, and keeping stock of things I know he enjoys.

I don't know what your schedule is like, and if your son really needs to be sleeping at 9pm. I'd suggest trying to be more open to helping him listen to his body's cues for eating and sleep. I'd certainly feed him if he's hungry, I don't agree with withholding food, especially not on a punishment/reward basis. Above all, talk with him. It may be that he's missing something really fun when you're trying to get him to sit down to dinner. Maybe you can come up with a compromise- eating a few minutes later, eating in a different room or outside, playing together beforehand, etc. I imagine having his feelings heard and his opinion counted will go a long way. :)

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