My oldest daughter is in the throws of her toddler developmental cognitive leap. This leap has HUGE impacts on her behaviour in all aspects of life. I am acutely aware, however, that eating behaviours are often significantly impacted at this age bringing about “fussy eating”.
How am I dealing with this leap AND bringing a new sibling into the picture?
As my youngest is now a few months into her solids journey, I am noticing some very interesting techniques that I am adopting to prevent food jags and avoid food aversions with my oldest. These techniques are “interesting” because I am amazed at how thinly the resource “mum” can be spread if I try to feed both children according to “best mummy practice”.
Realisation #1: I can’t do exclusively parent led OR baby led weaning (BLW) with my youngest and that is OK.
I have adopted a very fluid approach to what is on offer for my youngest daughter depending on a range of factors:
a) how much time do I have for meal preparation? I definitely can’t prepare a host of fancy purees or intricate finger foods only for my youngest daughter. I am looking for options that she can participate in with the rest of the family from a much younger age this time around. My oldest daughter was on exclusively table food by 12 months and this time around, from 6 months Verity was having some table foods. Getting kids onto table foods earlier is very beneficial. However, you do have to bear in mind that a baby will be eating them, for example – Added salt and sugar are out. Herbs & spices are in. Fruit as sweetener is in. Below is a recipe for a soup that does not use salt or stock and is still yummy for the whole family.
b) how much can I concentrate on observing and coaching the youngest during the mealtime? This impacts the types of finger food I can allow her to work on. Unlike when I could devote 100% of my attention to my older daughter. I invariably have to split the attention now. Some of my best BLW ideas for my youngest are just simply ruled out at some meals as my toddler may be having a day where she needs some more assistance to be engaged to the eating process. So, I am working on ways to assist both of them at their two very unique positions on their eating journey.
Realisation #2: I can’t follow the family meal “rules” at every meal but I can choose the best fitting elements for each meal.
I am picking and choosing the family meal principles that I can do well in each meal. I am not stressing about doing them all. If I am relaxed during meals, my children will be in a happier eating environment. So, by choosing the elements that I can do and doing those well, I am happy ergo they are happy.
Realisation #3: I am not the only one introducing a sibling to the mix with a 2 year age gap – so what’s been studied?
I asked a few respected feeding experts what their experience was with fussy eating behaviours increasing when a sibling started on solids. Although, there do not appear to be any specific studies on this, it follows that a change in family routine and dynamics can impact a toddler. Jo Cormack reminded me that change is hard for some children, so they might try to gain a bit of control of this situation manifesting as “fussy” eating behaviours. Dr Kristen Yarker, Registered Dietitian, has seen fussy eating behaviours increase in her practice both when the younger sibling is born and when the new sibling is starting solids. Dr Yarker agreed that it is a matter of being conscious of the division of responsibility during mealtimes and remaining consistent in my approach.
What have you noticed about the changing feeding dynamics in your family? Has it lead to food jagging or food aversions?
- ½ butternut pumpkin, cubed
- ¼ cauliflower head, cut into large florets
- 2 cups of water
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground sage
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tin brown lentils, drained.
- Natural yoghurt and crushed kale chips for garnish (optional)
- Sautee the garlic in olive oil
- Add pumpkin and cauliflower. Let the edges caramelise while stirring.
- Add the sage and nutmeg. Stir for another minute until the spices cover the vegetables.
- Add the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the lentils and keep on the heat simmering for another 5 minutes.
- Mash the soup lightly with a fork to a consistency that suits your diners!
- Garnish as desired