This past week I led a seminar at my children’s school called “Healthy Feeding Strategies for Your Young Family.” I will admit I was anxious for the presentation because up until now, my exchanges with these parents had always been on a parent-to-parent level. We bonded over the challenge of clingy children at drop-off and supported each other with looks of understanding during parking lot meltdowns. In leading this seminar, however, I was putting on a new and different hat, as an “expert” dietitian.

I kicked off the presentation mentioning that as a dietitian, I knew everything you needed to know about how to feed your children…and then I became a mom. I wanted them to understand that just because I was a dietitian, I also struggled with many of the same issues they did and often questioned if I was doing it “right.” During the presentation, parents voiced their concerns and challenges they had about feeding their young children. They raised questions like: “Is this normal?” “Are we doing it right?”  “Are they getting enough?” “Eating the right things?” “Why will they eat this, but not that?” While I offered suggestions, I also reminded them that many times, there is no ONE right answer. Feeding strategies have to make sense for their unique family and feel right to them as the parent. As the conversation came to an end, we all agreed upon some important key strategies for feeding young children:

  1. Our children watch us closely.  Before we can help our children establish a healthy relationship with food, it helps to take a look in the mirror. How is our relationship with food? Are we dieting or drinking shakes while they eat something different? Do we engage in emotional eating or highly control our own choices? Are we telling them to eat their veggies, but we aren’ eating ours?
  2. We can offer healthy foods but it doesn’t help to coerce. Our role as parents is to expose, expose, expose to a variety of healthy foods and let them decide how much of it to eat. Pressuring, short-order cooking, and controlling are strategies that backfire.
  3. Embrace the power of eating together. When we eat together as family, we connect and communicate which makes the dining table a safe and inviting place to be.

McDaniel Nutrition has been listening to the needs of busy parents of young children and are responding by offering new services. Very soon, we will be launching a new series of nutrition workshops plus a private Facebook group tailored to Moms and Dads. Our workshops and Facebook live videos will answer common questions like:

  • How and when to introduce solid foods?
  • When should I let my baby use a spoon/bowl on his/her own?
  • How do I transition from breastmilk/formula to whole milk?
  • What are the best baby foods? Can I easily make my own?
  • How can I get my child-aged child to eat more at mealtime?
  • Why do my kids seem to eat better at school than they do at home?
  • What are the healthiest after-school snacks?
  • Is my child getting enough from all the food groups?
  • What are tips to get dinner on the table faster?

This is just a small snapshot of some of the topics we will cover.  While we know you can find answers online, McDaniel Nutrition wants to make it easier for you to quickly get the answers you need. Our workshops and Facebook group will be a one-stop-shop trustworthy resource where you can obtain evidence-based, practical guidance AND connect with other parents just like you in our private Facebook group.

Want to be kept in the loop for the launch or simply be added to the FREE private parent Facebook group? Sign up HERE.  As a fun perk, you will receive our FREE grocery list template when you sign up!

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.