How comfortable are you with hunger? Or more specifically, your child’s hunger?
Not real hunger, as in starvation. Temporary hunger. Your answer to this question will determine a lot about how successfully you can introduce new foods at meals.
- You’ve grown a good taster. This might have taken a few weeks. It might also take a few months.
- You’re ready to introduce new foods at meals, with the idea that possibly…just possibly, your child will actually eat what you serve.
- Still, you ask your child to taste the new food…not with the proviso that “if you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it.” That assumes eating and that assumption is pressure. Rather, you provide a teeny, tiny taste and say, “What do you think? Is it crunchy? Salty? Sweet? Ask anything but, “Do you like it?”
- You have put something on the table that your child can be reasonably expected to eat. This ensures he won’t starve.
- You have used a backup. This really ensures that your child won’t starve.
(If you’re new to this series on introducing new foods, start here.)
Now, if your child doesn’t eat…or doesn’t eat enough…what do you do?
Nothing. This is why you have to be comfortable with your child’s temporary hunger.
If you do anything—say, provide another alternative or beg, cajole or even bribe your child into eating more—you’ll undermine your efforts. The message: Your hunger is powerful. Your hunger makes me jump. You don’t really have to eat anything I’ve prepared because if I think you’re hungry I’ll prepare something else.
When hunger is power the normal parent-child relationship is reversed: the kids hold the keys.
Set a schedule for meals and snacks. I call this the Eating Zones Rule.
And then stick to it. Your child has to have the freedom to choose not to eat before he’ll have the power to choose to eat.
This is different than starving out your kid. This is authoritative parenting in action.
You’ve put sufficient food down, and have created a reasonable meal and snack schedule, to know that your child has enough access to food—and food that she normally eats—to eat if she wants to.
For more, read The Upside of Hunger and Hunger vs Appetite.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~