Inspiration from Meghan

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Beyond the Tantrums and Tears: 3 Lessons For Meal Times With Little Ones


Written by fantabulous mama extraordinaire and superbo sister in law, Carly Telpner. We are so pleased to have Carly share her tips for developing healthy eating habits in kiddies!

This morning my darling two-year old daughter, sweet little Mia, ate a breakfast that consisted of almonds, strawberries, homemade pumpkin muffin and a green-berry smoothie that had strawberries, blueberries, kale, and hemp seeds in it. Sounds wonderful, right?

I’d love to be able to say that Mia’s eating habits just happened, but as any parent would know – it took a lot of work, perseverance and little person tears. Along the way I have learned some important lessons that not only apply to instilling healthy and nourishing eating habits in my kid, but to overall parenting.

1. Start as you intend to continue.
My mom-in-law, Patsy, taught me this and has been a mantra for me. From the moment I started Mia on solids, I stuck to homemade purees and stews using fruits, veggies and whole grains. It took a bigger effort on my part (and a bigger mess to clean up while being sleep deprived), but for the most part it’s the only kind of food Mia knows. This lesson also holds true for no toys or technology at the table. It’s never been present, so it’s never been expected or turned into a habit. Meals at my house are a time for family, conversation and the occasional sing-a-long. But it hasn’t always been so civilized. There was a time when Mia welcomed her dinner plate with screams and tears for toast. I used to give in for the peace and quiet and as quickly as toast would appear, Mia’s tears would be gone and replaced with a winning smile. When lesson number one went off the tracks, I move onto lesson number two, perseverance and consistency.

2. Perseverance and Consistency
Undoing unwanted habits is tough, but parents play a hand in creating them and have the ability to change them. We had a week of battles over mealtime and with all the tears, screams, and my own doubts, I persevered. Mia may have gone to bed a little hungry on the first day, but she didn’t starve and day-by-day mealtime got better. It took a week for her to stop screaming and when looking at the bigger picture it was all worth it. Once in a while she’ll try to test us (as all toddlers do) and ask for toast again, but when I consistently say no with a smile I just get a sly smile back, and Mia moves on to her plate without the tears.

3. Lead By Example
My third lesson may seem cliché and common, but it’s something I live by and is the most important in my mind. I would never expect Mia to eat something I wouldn’t eat myself. All the same, if Mia’s not allowed to play with toys at the table all of our technology is put away and no phone calls, emails, texts or tweets are taken at the table either. As any parent knows, kids watch everything we do and take pride in mimicking the adults in their lives. If there’s no processed junk food around for my husband, Michael, and I to eat, then there’s no processed junk food around for Mia to eat.

As an everyday parent, I know it’s not always so simple or easy and following three lessons won’t solve all your parenting challenges. With a a screaming child by my side, I’ve asked myself many times 'how did we get here?’. I am constantly reminding myself of my own three lessons while figuring out this challenging job. One thing I know for sure is that the hard work that comes with feeding my child a healthy, nourishing and ‘Meghan approved’ diet is more than worth a few tantrums and tears.

Question of the Day: What are your tips for getting your kids to eat the good stuff...and ditch the bad?


23 Responses to “Beyond the Tantrums and Tears: 3 Lessons For Meal Times With Little Ones”

  1. Beyond the Tantrums and Tears: 3 Lessons For Meal Times With Little Ones: Written by fantabulous mama extraordin...
    • Bonnie Duchscherer said…
      What a smart mama, what a lucky little girl to have parents like this. This is not just about food, but her relationship with her parents, just wait till she is a teenager, she knows where she stands with her parents. Mia will say to other , can't do that, my parents would kill me.
  2. Cherie said…
    One of the best peices of advice I had received when we were new parents was the following. Before you go ahead and you choose to allow your child to eat or do anything, such as eat certain unhealthy foods, tantrum in a store (which instead trying to appease, stop what you are doing and leave, to send the message this is not acceptable behavior...tough on you the first couple of times, but it works), or playing with certain items, etc., stop for a moment to ask yourself one question. The most important question is, if we do this once, am I willing to let them do this over and over and over again? It is a lot easier to not allow them to do something the first time than it is to break a bad habit. This simple question is priceless! We have five children and it has been amazing to see how it has saved us from so many tears and tantrums our friends families have gone through! Hope this helps. Mia is such a cutie, takes after her Mom!
  3. Karen said…
    What a lucky little girl! I believe that, along with Carly's wonderful guidelines, education is really important. Even when my boys were toddlers I would explain "these yummy carrots have lots of vitamins in them!". As they get older, the "lessons" get more detailed. Perhaps when they are older they will throw it all out the door but I believe they will always have that knowledge to come back to :)
  4. Beyond the Tantrums and Tears: 3 Lessons For Meal Times With Little Ones
  5. alison said…
    Great post Carly! can you please post the recipe for your pumpkin muffins?
  6. check our my post! “@meghantelpner: Awesome tips for instilling healthy eating habits in bebes! #parenting”
  7. Audrey Marsolais said…
    My kids are older (almost 7 and 9) and I take time to explain t them what bad food and good food do to them. They know about good ingredients, they read labels and they ask if the fruit they are eating is organic. It's not always and they have their sugary moments but overall they do pretty well in choosing the good stuff for them as they know they will feel better after (and stay healthy). They also saw me being very very sick with Crohn's disease and they understand that food can make you sick. I'm not saying Crohn's only related to food but since I'm on a gluten/sugar/dairy/yeast free diet I'm feeling so much better... and they see it. So I think teaching them the benefits of good food and the consequences of eating bad stuff (when they are old enough to understand) can help, too.
  8. Mary said…
    Three words: Baby. Led. Weaning. PS - My babe has toast sometimes and I think that's okay! She also has kale, swiss chard, kiwi, avocado, squash, zuchinni, snow peas, sugar snap peas, sweet potato and more veggies than most adults consume. But she has toast too.
  9. Mary said…
    PPS - Baby bok choi is the BEST baby food in the universe. Little handle. Loads of leafy green goodness.
  10. Great little post about feeding our kids. Simple. True. I needed this today! via @meghantelpner

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