Moms worry. It’s what we do. But when your child is physically smaller than his peers or mealtimes are a struggle, it can feel like you’re failing as a parent. Take a deep breath, Mom. You’re not failing. The fact that you’re reading this article—searching for solutions—proves it.
At mealtime, when things can feel particularly stressful, repeat these mantras to yourself:
“This is just one meal.” When it comes to overall nutrition, think big picture. Sometimes your child will eat ravenously, and for others, she’ll pick at her favorite mac & cheese until it goes cold. In the end, keep in mind that every meal does not have to be perfect, as long as kids are getting the nutrition they need.
“Keep your eyes on your own plate.” No one wants to eat dinner while they’re being watched, and that includes your little one. You don’t need to monitor every bite—and you might be surprised at how much your little one will eat while your attention is elsewhere.
“Normal has a wide range.” If you expect your daughter to eat the same amount as her older sibling did at this age, keep in mind that what counts as normal for one child might be excessive for another. Different children need different things to thrive, or at different times of growth.
“Pushing invites push-back.” The harder you try to convince your child to eat what’s on her plate, the more compelled she feels to refuse. Act as if you don’t care how much she eats, and she may eat more.
“Trust your gut.” Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that children have been eating—or not eating—for millennia. That said, trust your instincts: If something feels really wrong, speak to your pediatrician.
If you do seek medical help, ask your doctor about serving PediaSure daily—it’s been clinically shown to help kids grow out of at-risk weight-for-height percentiles.
What mantra do you use to keep mealtimes stress-free?