My 2.5 year old is an all-day grazer. This maybe wouldn't bother me if he had several healthy snacks throughout the day in addition to eating substantial food, but more often than not, he will have a few bites (on a good night) of the healthy homemade meal I prepared...and then is asking for something to eat 10 min. later..cereal, crackers, etc. This is the pattern for most meals, but dinner is especially the problem. I'm wondering how to improve this so that he can get the most out of the food I'm making vs. having a diet shaped around the quickie stuff I'm grabbing on the fly to satisfy him every 30 min.
The obvious answer would be to not let him graze and make him wait until we eat our next meal...but I'm not sure how to do this (DS has an iron will and it would turn into an all-day fight) nor how to ascertain whether he is genuinely hungry when asking to eat since he won't eat much "real" food.
I have a newborn so the "snacks" he is getting are as healthy as I can manage right now, but they are things I can grab- a cheese stick, fruit, crackers...he'll eat some veggies very occasionally. My mother, who he sees every week, packs snacks for him even if she's coming to my house to see him, and they are the processed kind, so I often feel I'm swimming against the current here.
I do think it has to do with his short attention-span, in that he doesn't sit long enough at the dinner table to get or stay interested in the food he's eating and he wants to get down from his chair.
We're not the best in getting DD to eat what we are all eating (she's not big on most veggies or meat for example). But we have broken the "crackers for dinner" problem, though in our case she would not want to eat what I offered for dinner and would ask for crackers instead (rather than leaving and then wanting them later). I basically would tell her that it's not cracker time, it's dinner time and she could have some of x or y that was on her plate. If it was a food that I knew she was unlikely to eat based on previous experiments I would offer to cook her a couple of eggs (nothing fancy, just two eggs mixed up and cooked in a flat omelette, then sliced up - it's quick but I only have one and no newborn so YMMV!). I figured that way at least she's getting some protein and not just carbs so she wouldn't be starving. If after the eggs she still seemed hungry she could have some greek yogurt or a piece of buttered toast.
DD was not sleeping well at night so I was always worried that if she didn't eat anything (or had very little) she'd be up more at night because she was hungry. So offering her something quick and healthy helped me not feel reassured and put something in her tummy. I think cheese and fruit are very good snacks, crackers are fine in moderation and if they're not replacing meals. If you do dairy I think yogurt or kefir are good, or hummus/pita. DD loves dipping her pitas so I keep a container of hummus and some of those mini-pitas in the fridge so I can grab it; she's not big on dipping with veggies but if your son likes veggies that would be even better. I keep the hummus just for her so I don't dish it out onto a plate or anything, just pop the lid off (yup, lazy, lol).
Have you tried offering his own dinner leftovers in place of snacks if it's too soon after a meal to be considered "snack" time? That way you're honoring the fact that he's asking for food, but not allowing the substitution of unhealthy for healthy. And it would be relatively easy to grab, since it's already cooked and plated up.
|Toddler , Toddlers , Food|