What should be a mother's objective?????? Good and healthy eating habits or just to feed the child in whatever way the child eating?

Geetu - posted on 12/17/2010 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I have many people around me who have wrong feeding habits....like...feeding a child while he or she is watching t.v, or running after the child throughout the house just to feed one paratha or feeding the child on your own(when the child can eat on his own) so that the child does not spill the food...., or bottle feeding even after 2 yrs......many questions keep on my mind.....any suggestions

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Renae - posted on 12/17/2010

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I dont find that there is anything wrong with most of the things that you think are wrong. Most toddlers around 2 years old eat well while watching TV, make less mess and finish their meal without getting bored. Most specialists (psychologists and pediatricians) recommend that toddlers around the age of 2-3 be allowed to eat finger food that they can walk around with while they continue playing, and sometimes this involves constantly reminding them to eat. What harm does it do to feed a child, presumably so that they dont make as much mess, or get through their meal quicker, or whatever circumstance is arising on the occasion that it is just more convenient to feed them than let them do it themselves.



If a child is still having a bottle at 2 and eating their meals infront of the TV, does that then mean that when they are 12 they will not know how to sit at the table, eat properly and have good manners? It really doesn't serve any purpose to be so strict on a child's "eating habits" as you call them at such a young age. There is a time to learn everything and the time does not have to be when they are 2 years old. Learning is a gradual and continual process which should be age appropriate, expectations can gradually increase as the child gets older and do not have to be thrown at them all at once.



I do not think that "healthy eating" and the "habits" you describe have anything to do with each other, if by healthy eating you mean having a healthy and well balanced diet.

Svea - posted on 12/17/2010

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the objective should be to teach your child about the pleasures of food, textures, tastes and colours. offer good food not junk, primarily homecooked, and keep offering. kids will not starve themselves but they go through hungry phases as well as non-hungry phases where it seems like they only eat enough to sustain a sparrow!. dont worry, just trust them to know. also making food a non-issue/non-power struggle helps. just hand control of portion size to the child (you retain control of what you offer). it's important that kids learn to recognize the 'full' feeling as well, so letting them self-control amounts will help stop them from overriding their appetite and help them stay a healthy weight, become a healthy adult.
also manners - you can not teach table manners when kids eat in front of the tv on their own. meals should be on the family table, ideally with everyone eating (even if it's just a snack for the parent if the kids eat very early). i often sit with a cup of tea and a slice of toast while my kids have their tea around 5pm.

Amber - posted on 12/20/2010

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I don't really mind if my son has a snack with his cartoons, but I try to keep meals at the table. His father and I both find table manners to be very important. But messes are a part of having a small child...and it all comes in time.



I don't personally think that you should chase a child to make them do anything. That gives them the power.



*Edited to Add*

I forgot to say that I don't really think that healthy choices in eating and table manners are the same thing. They are two different subjects.

Tracy - posted on 12/17/2010

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Well, if you don't like those habits then you absolutely don't have to indulge your child in them. I happen to agree with you on them, though. Although, once in a while we'll do a sit in front of the TV and eat dinner. BUT, it's still us eating as a family and watching a specific show, as a family. It really boils down to what you want for you family. You can't control what other people do in their homes, only what goes on in yours.

Laura - posted on 12/17/2010

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You bring up some excellent points, Geetu. Ideally, mealtime should involve family and not TV! But that is a personal choice families make and, IMO, is of lesser a concern than some of the other things you mention.

Children NEED to learn to feed themselves and feeding them food and a bottle for too long takes that learning opportunity away from them. yes, they will eventually learn, but the younger they can be encouraged to feed themselves, the less likely they are to become overweight, for example. Kids are amazing at eating just what they need and not much more as Svea points out. By allowing them to feed to their hunger (and not what we parents think it should be) they learn to stop when full and not over-consume. This skill cannot be overstated!

Bottle feeding after a year old is a parent's choice. Most pediatricians recommend ending the bottle at around 12 months. Just because they recommend it doesn't mean that a parent has to follow that advice. Again, I view as doing your child a dis-service by not teaching and encouraging them to develop these skills at an early age. Most kids can learn to drink from a "sippy" cup by 12 months and from a regular glass, on their own, not far after. It is a skill--it takes practice which comes with mistakes! Messes can be cleaned up...

Diet is entirely up tho the parent! Many parents--moms in particular--get caught up in the whole "my kid won't eat!" panic. Yes, your child will! Control mealtimes by controlling the availability of healthy foods; avoid "junk" food or heavily processed foods. Provide the opportunity for healthy snacks in between mealtimes. As I mentioned before, kids are great at eating what they need and not much more so once they can feed themselves all a parent needs to do is make healthy choices available.

Renae, I respectfully disagree with your comment about "eating habits". It is very important that young children be taught good manners, including how to sit through a meal at the dinner table! Again, kids are little sponges that soak up information at an early age when their brains are developing. This includes giving them instruction on social expectations for behavior, too. By two years of age, my daughter could sit through a meal, say "please" and "thank-you" and was able to wait until the meal was finished, even if she was done before. This took patience and work on her dad's and my part--it's called parenting. IMO, parents that let their children control mealtimes and act upon impulse (which is natural for small children--they are impulsive!) instead of teaching their children important social skills at an early age are acting negligent in their duties. Without structure early on, kids WILL develop behavioral problems that will be much harder for the parent to deal with later. I know what I'm talking about--I have professional experience working with children (mostly pre-teen/teens) with behavioral problems and generally those problems began when they were toddlers. Teaching them these skills early will go a long way in preventing behavioral problems later. Hope this helps, Geetu!

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Amanda - posted on 12/26/2010

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I got to say my familys one sin is eatting infront of the tv. Are we over weight?? Nope. Do we eat unhealthy? Hell no. My children all make great eatting choices, even the 2 year old. I just spent christmas watching all three of my kids say No thank you to family members offering them junk food. Do they have table manners? Hell yes, they are some of othe BEST behaved children in a resturant. Thats right I been able to take my 2 year into a fancy resturant since she started table food and have her behave, use her manners (once she could talk). I dont think a table is needed every meal to teach a child manners (these are taught thought out the day). Nor is a table needed to share your day. We do this while cooking, and eatting.



As long as your children are making good choices, and eatting well, who cares where they eat!

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Personally I agree, our 17mth old daughter sits with us for dinner and we allow her to feed herself while we slip in the odd spoonful to speed the process up!! She does not eat or drink outside the kitchen/dinner table.



We also only give her choice form healthy food options. She does not eat lollies, biscuits or fast food. She doens't eat much processed food either. I could count on one time the amount of times she has eaten Heinz Baby foods etc.



As for bottles after 12 mths - in Australia professional advice is to stop at 12 months because the risk of dental caries (tooth decay) increases with feeding from bottles beyond that age as the milk, juice etc pools around the teeth and because children tend to take much longer to finish the drink if they can have it from a bottle.



Having said all that though, unless those people are feeding your child in a way that you don't want them to learn then really why does it matter to you how they teach their own child? I have enough to worry about with my child to be jusging what pther parents do with theirs - although sometimes I see things that horrify me. I saw an 11 month old given chocolate iced donut once!!

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I like to eat meals at the table and most snacks stay at the table too. I don't see much point in feeding a child that can feed themselves. I don't see much point in chasing a child around to feed them either, if they are hungry they will eat. My kids use very good table manners or they will not eat at my table. And I truly believe that it is very good to feed your children healthy food but nothing wrong with a little junk food:)

Iysha - posted on 12/20/2010

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Well, I think what goes in the mouth is more important than how it gets in there. I somethimes eat while watching tv....what good is ice cream sitting at the table? isnt it supposed to be eaten while watching your favorite chick flick?!? My daughter knows that at some meals we all eat at the table and she knows that snacks are offered wherever...she's 1 1/2 and knows that she sits in her chair for dinner. Is that bad eating habits? I am not sure....I mean, I was always brought to the table for meals and now, I eat standing by the counter, while on the couch, in bed, outside, in the car, and at the table....why shouldnt my daughter? she eats snacks in her stroller at the mall or when on walks...is that really so bad?

When it comes to food, she eats just as healthy as we do, afterall we eat the same things. I think I have pretty good eating habits...I like my fruits and veggies and usually have balanced meals with the occasional junk food when I can afford it or if someone offers it. I'm not unhealthy and I have been eating the same since before I can remember.

I think most parents use their best judgement and figure out what values are important, not just in food/dining choices, but with everything, and try to instill those values in their children. For me, It's going to be to enjoy food and enjoy good food. To eat mostly healthy and to indulge in the "not so good for you but tasty" food once in a while.

Alecia - posted on 12/20/2010

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i think that "healthy eating" involves good food choices as well as certian eating habits. i will let my 15 mnth old have snacks in btwn meals and i dnt always make her sit in her chair for a snack, but when it comes to meals we always sit at the table and there isnt tv. we talk about what she's eating or what we see outside. no, i dnt let her use utensils yet, but she eats plenty of things on her own with her hands :sandwhiches, spagetti, fruit, etc. we have on the occasional sunday eat lunch or dinner while watching football, but only once in a great while. i strongly believe that parents need to teach their kids to eat healthy and have table manners. my daughter knows she has to sit at the dinner table with us until we are done eating...whether she wants to eat or not. and is very well-behaved (for a 15 mnth old) when we got out to eat.

Emily - posted on 12/20/2010

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I think our job is definitely to teach good eating habits. That may mean different things to different people. But I also think choice is important. Generally I offer healthy foods choices so that even though there are choices, I know they are still within my healthy guidelines.

Melissa - posted on 12/17/2010

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I lever let my children run all over the house while eating. My children were allowed to eat at once place and one place only in our home and that was at the dinner table. My now 22 yr old lives on her own with roomates and she makes them eat at the dinner table.... they are the best times they've shared together, she says/

Jennifer - posted on 12/17/2010

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I base a lot of what I do with my kids on what I didn't like that my parents did with me. When I was growing up, supper was in front of the t.v. I HATED it. I would have to yell at my father 5-6 times just to get his attention, and I never had the chance to share how my day went. Also, I would get interested in a show, and actually eat more than I wanted, because I didn't realize til it was gone. Now, as an adult, supper is all of my family together around the table. I only make one meal, and if the kids don't want it, that's ok, but that is the only choice, so if they don't eat it, they go hungry. I know a lot of moms are against that, but my kids are very healthy, and eat a huge variety of foods. They have even discovered they like brussle sprouts, and none of my children have starved to death by refusing 1 meal! As for a bottle, my 3 oldest kids, no longer got it after they turned 1, and it will be the same way for my 4th who is 2 months right now. As for feeding themselves, I give them a fork/spoon as soon as they start eating table food, and until they get the hang of it, I feed them after they've had a while to try, and then I clean up the mess they made. As for chasing a child around to feed him/her, forget it! When they get hungry, they will come to the table.

Katherine - posted on 12/17/2010

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Watching T.V. eh. Chasing a child? Not good IMO. You shouldn't be chasing your child around to feed them IMO.
If a child can feed themselves, there is NO reason to feed them. That's how they learn to use utensils properly.
Being overly cautious about messes makes me nuts. A kid is a KID. If you stress them out so early they are going to be OCD.
Bottle after 2.....well that's on the parents. I try not to judge.

Louise - posted on 12/17/2010

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Good eatting habits are easier to teach whilst your child is young but I would not knock any mother who is trying to get their child to eat. Whatever works for them. I personally think it is important for a family to eat together at the end of the day without a tv on so you talk to each other. I also think if a mum is concerned about what there child is choosing to eat then they should step in and encourage their child to eat the vegetables on their plate when all the child wants to eat is the chicken. It is all about getting the balance right. I have to say having raised two children already table manners do matter as some of their friends come around for tea and struggle to hold a knife and fork correctly and it shocks me. But that is my opinion what somebody else does in their own home is there business.

Angie - posted on 12/17/2010

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I agree with you; good eating habit begin early. Sitting at the table teaches a child to pay attention to what they're eating so they don't over eat or make poor nutritional choices later in life. My children were allowed to feed themselves from early on. A few Cherrios or green beans on the tray of their high chair made them happy and taught them to stop eating when they were full. I put a plastic table cloth under their high chairs to catch any mess so it was never a problem for us to clean up their messes.

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