Parenting with less stress {Feeding our children}

  After giving our children a good start with breast feeding the next step was of course solid foods. I think when I had Mara the recommended time to start feeding them was 4 months. I believe they have lengthened that not. For about the first year breast feeding was definitely our children's main course but they did enjoy some solid foods too.

   Mealtimes have always been an important family time for our family so even when they were babies they generally joined us at the table at meal times, sometimes in my lap (and then often they nursed while I ate) or in a bouncer seat set on the end of the table, or in a highchair or the swing very near by. Almost always our whole family eats Breakfast and Supper together, sitting down at the table and then the kids and I eat lunch together at the table. It is good visiting time and we really enjoy our mealtimes.

   I think with every child I bought a box of rice cereal and then they ate about 4 servings or so of it and I put the rest in cookies. For some reason they didn't like it to much and they thought mashed bananas and things like that were much yummier.

 Other than the rice cereal I never did buy any baby food for my children. Baby food in little bottles is quite expensive (I think), doesn't look that appealing (I think) and has a lot of packaging that I would have had to figure out all sorts of craft projects to use. It worked much better for me to just mash up things that we were eating (potatoes, peas, carrots, and such) or fed them teeny tiny pieces of the things we had. They grew and thrived and didn't choke or have allergies. If we were having something that simply didn't seem baby friendly I would often get out a soda cracker, applesauce or mash a banana for them.

   As kids get older they can have a bit of a tendency to get picky. It was my goal to NOT have picky eaters for children. I know that picky children are frustrating to others and it would have been very stressful for me!  Another thing that we really wanted to avoid with our children was food waste. I have seen this happen many times with kids and that didn't sit well with me as I really don't like waste. Ken and I did quite a bit of thinking on how to avoid these things.

  We did set some basic rules in our house and they are: (note, some of these "rules" are for the children and some of them are for us.)

  • Give small starter portions to the children and allow them to have more when they finish what they have.
  • They are required to finish their food (We DO NOT always enforce this when we are at a public event, especially any time that others give them a serving (like at a dinner at church) as others usually give them way to much). If they just don't think they can finish their food we allow them to put it in a container and put it in the fridge and then they eat it before they eat anything else. So naturally if dessert was served with that meal they will be forgoing dessert. Times this rule is forgone altogether is when we find out they have the stomach flu or something like that.
  • Complaining about food is not allowed! You can admit that something isn't your favorite and ask nicely that you don't get a very big helping but if you are complaining you will receive more of what you complained about. This has pretty much stopped the bad attitude complaining at the table.
  • Everybody eats the same thing (unless it is leftover buffet!). I do not cook special items for various members of the family. I am just not that into cooking nor do I have lots of extra time for something like that.
  There are other things that have helped our children not to be very picky. Here are a few of the things we have done to help them to have a palate that enjoys a variety of things:
  • Served a wide variety with the expectation that they would like it.
  • We got them involved in gardening and growing their own food or gathering it together from the wild. Or even having them involved with butchering the meat.
  •  Having them involved in preparing it. We especially did this with various ethnic foods. We would read about the country and then pour over recipes and then work together to make something. It was an adventure for all of us. We had fun having international students over a few times to show us how to cook their countries food.
  • Be excited about new foods yourself.
  • Feed them the things their dad is picky about while he is gone to work. There were some things that I knew Ken didn't like that I really didn't want the kids to dislike so I decided a long time ago that I would fix those things fairly often for lunch. That I happily report has been very successful! My kids love Peas and Cantaloupe and eat beans and split peas and lentils fine! They also think wild foods are fun which is not something Ken is very into eating.
  I have heard that many parents find mealtimes stressful but I am here to tell you that they don't have to be. We really truly enjoy mealtimes, it is a time of visiting, sharing what we have learned and just enjoying being together as a family. The food nourishes us and we enjoy it but what we really enjoy is our time together. It is not stressful or overwhelming.

   Have you done anything special to make sure that mealtimes work for your family? I would love to hear your methods!