Here Comes the Choo Choo Pain

2020 has certainly been a strange year. A pandemic, an unprecedented lockdown, and a huge disruption to our way of life. This has been a very challenging time, which has made some already stressful experiences seem even more difficult. This is not surprising, isolation from others can make us feel so much more alone, and feeds into our belief that we are the only one struggling, which can really increase feelings of stress. 

FEEDING TIME STRESS: 

One thing we are certainly aware of is how difficult it is to feel certain that our children are eating a healthy and balanced diet. To feel sure that they are getting all the nutrition they need to grow and thrive. Every parent will remember the phase where food ends up everywhere except where it is meant to.  

Natures Aid has commissioned research into the impact lockdown has had on this particular source of stress. The responses showed that more than  two thirds (67%) of parents found mealtime stresses had increased, whilst almost three quarters (71%) stated that they were feeling concerned about whether their children were getting all the right nutrients to support a healthy immune system. 

If you also feel this way, read on to discover my top five tips for managing mealtimes, as well as learning about all the inventive approaches other parents have taken to try and encourage their children to eat. 

TOP 5 TIPS FOR MANAGING MEALTIMES

1.  TRUST YOURSELF

There are a lot of different places to go to for advice – other parents, your parents, bloggers, social media, so use these resources for hints and tips. However, it is also important to remember that, with this, as with everything in life, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What has worked for some will not work for others, so trust your instincts and go with whatever is working for you. For example, for three months of my daughter’s life she ate pretty much everything in quiche form, because she liked quiche! However, she doesn’t anymore, in fact she refuses to even look at it – but it got us over a bump in the road. 

2. DON’T WORRY ABOUT MESS

We know not all your little one’s food goes where it’s supposed to; it will always end up pretty much everywhere – the walls, the floor, their face – and sometimes even in their mouth. Try not to worry about the mess, as this just creates extra stress for you and your little one. Allow them to experiment and experience the different textures. Embrace it and take pictures of their food-based artwork and their covered faces and look back on these times with laughter. 

3. FORGET ABOUT PERFECTION

As a parent we are always trying to get it right, and we can end up putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve ‘perfection’. This creates a lot of anxiety about whether we are fulfilling our own expectations. Do not be too hard on yourself, and do not judge yourself by someone else’s social media posts, for example. Social media is a snapshot in time, it is not reality. Reality is messy! Remember, every single parent is doing their best, every child is different, everyone will make mistakes, and everyone is making their own mess – you just don’t always get to see it! 

4. BRIDGE THE GAP 

If you are worried about whether they are getting all the nutrients they need, you can easily bridge the gap between what they should eat, and what they do eat, by adding in a simple, fuss free liquid supplement. 

For those worried about supporting their child’s immune system, consider Mini Drops Immune Plus. This blackcurrant flavoured liquid combines elderberry with Zinc, Vitamin C, Folic acid and Vitamin B12, which all help to support a healthy immune system. This can be easily added to food or drinks, to provide you with a little extra peace of mind. 

For those worried about bigger gaps in their little one’s diet, you could try a multivitamin, like Mini Drops Multivitamins, which have been carefully formulated to provide a selection of vitamins and can again be added to food or drinks. 

5. HAVE SOME FUN, JOIN THE CONVERSATION

One final tip – join the tribe! Natures Aid #NoFilterFeeding conversations on Facebook and Instagram are there to allow you to share and enjoy all the many different successful (and not so successful) tactics other parents have used, and to share your own stories. Laughing along, and knowing you are not the only person going through this, really will help to reduce that feeling of stress.

Our research also flagged up many weird and wonderful ways that parents have got their children to eat, these include: 

  • Dressing up as their child’s favourite TV or cartoon character
  • Creating faces and shapes out of food – one parent even admitted to creating monster sculptures with cottage pie – good effort!
  • Many like the sneaky approach of blending vegetables into sauces, so children do not know they are there (on a side note, I still do this with my now 15-year-old daughter!)
  • Distraction is another popular theme, from dancing and singing, to putting TV shows on during mealtimes
  • We also had some downright lying – with one mum whose child liked bacon, telling them that everything she serves up was bacon!

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