Many parents are worried about their toddler’s food jags because they are concerned that their child isn’t taking in enough nutrients.
That’s not why food jags are a problem.
Food jags are a problem because they keep your child locked into a rigid style of eating, one that doesn’t usually include new foods. Bananas, bananas, bananas. Eggs, eggs, eggs. Pasta, pasta, pasta.
Parent your way through a food jag and your child will keep eating a healthy range of foods. Fight or indulge a food jag and, well…you’re on your own.
Food jags are a normal part of development but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them.
Understand why food jags occur.
- Kids want some control in their lives.
- Kids like routine.
- Knowing what food you are going to eat is comforting. (Not just to kids. Adults like to know this too.)
Parent your way through a food jag.
1) Use The Rotation Rule like you use a car seat: make it a non-negotiable part of life. The clearer you are about how choices are made (we don’t eat the same food two days in a row) the more your children will go along with the plan. Read more about how to use the Rotation Rule.
2) Modify The Rotation Rule to be compassionate, understanding and responsive to your child’s stage of development. If your child is absolutely in love with something keep some structure: You can have french toast sticks one time today.
3) Avoid a control struggle by sharing control: You can have french toast sticks one time today, you decide when.
4) Find opportunities to share control. Would you like apples or bananas today. Or, Choose a vegetable from 2 of the 4 bowls on the table. Or even, Which bowl would you like?
5) Give your child the routine she craves by how you parent, not with what you feed. Do this by making eating decisions seemed structured, not random. Random decisions are open to modification. Stucture is a given.
6) Don’t worry about nutrients: In the short term if your child is eating she’s getting enough nutrients. In the long run, if you use The Rotation Rule for structure, your child will take in a wide range of nutrients and learn to eat new foods, thereby increasing the kinds of nutrients she consumes.
7) Don’t waffle: Toddlers always exploit parents when they’re indecisive, ambivalent or weak!
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~