Do your new year resolutions include getting your family healthier and spending quality time with your kids? I have some ideas to inspire you to do both! Here are a few tips to help you successfully reach your Feeding Resolutions for the New Year.
Make Achievable Feeding Goals
Set your sights on making feeding goals that are achievable for your entire family. For example, a realistic goal could be to have more vegetables just for dinner (instead of for all three meals). Another more tempered goal might be to take an extra five minutes to create fun food art but only on weekends instead of during the workweek. These goals can help you feel like you’re gaining momentum on your family’s feeding journey. Here are a few additional things to keep in mind for your goals:
- Long Term Feeding Goals: Long term goals are what you want to achieve on your feeding journey by the end of the year. Write down one or two long-term goals (e.g., “I want my kids to eat a variety of colorful fruits each month”).
- Short Term Feeding Goals: Write down your short-term goals to help you obtain your long-term goals (e.g., “Each week I will prepare and introduce a new fruit”).
- Be Realistic: Keep your current life situation and your family’s time commitments in mind to be realistic and specific. (e.g., “I will prepare and introduce a new fruit on Sunday when the whole family can try it together and I can model how to eat the new food”)
Organize Your Feeding Space
Oftentimes, when I enter a home for feeding therapy, the dining room table is cluttered with bills, newspapers, homework, or sporting equipment, and the family has to shove piles aside to make room. When I see this, I do not judge families, as the table is a perfect meeting space for daily family events and school assignments. But parents need to realize that kids can respond negatively to a chaotic mealtime space and experience. For example, they may refuse to eat, get up from the table after a few bites, or only want to eat snacks. Although challenging, organizing your feeding space is something you can control. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Clutter-Free: Whether you have mealtime at the dining table, the playroom, in front of the TV (for movie night), or at the kitchen island, try to keep that feeding space clutter-free to decrease anxiety during mealtime.
- Mealtime Gear Organization: Organize your kitchen’s “kid’s junk drawer” by consolidating child utensils, cups, straws, and bibs. Choose kid-friendly dishware that is easy for you to stack and be organized nicely into a drawer or cupboard. The mealtime gear I designed for ezpz fits this criterion and can also be found in my Amazon Store.
Focus on Milestones + Mindset Change
This New Year, try to celebrate MILESTONES instead of focusing on the MESS. This mindset change has helped so many families I’ve worked with. Mealtime mess can be overwhelming. But we stay focused on what children CAN do at mealtime (supporting their feeding, swallowing, + oral motor milestones), then mealtime is not so stressful.
Instead of focusing on the negative, like what a child should NOT be doing (food throwing), change your mindset on what your child IS doing (touching + eating a variety of food). This change in focus can decrease mealtime stress and help your baby learn to love family meals!
- New Year Mealtime Jar: To remind us to focus on the positive, try making a New Year Milestones Jar. Each week, write down one of your feeding victories and place the note into the jar. For example, did your child finally learn to scoop with a spoon? Write down that victory and place it in the jar. Did they eat pumpkin for the first time? Place that in there too! At the end of the year, your family can go through all the notes and celebrate their feeding successes!
Looking ahead at this New Year, I would love to support you on your mealtime journey. Please join my private Facebook Group, where I teach about starting solids, picky eating, and helping children with medical needs learn to eat and enjoy food safely. And if one of your feeding goals is to have some one-on-one help with starting solids, I also do Parent Coaching!
What are your feeding goals this year? I would love to hear your thoughts! #MsDawnSLP
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP