Feeding toddlers during the holidays can be a challenge with all of the stimulation, excitement, breaks from routines, and new foods. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday break with your families—and that these tips make the feeding part a little easier on everyone!
- Toddlers don't always love your family food traditions, so try not to take it personally and remember that it might take them time to learn to love a food they only see once a year.
- Behavior, hunger, and general mealtime disposition can be wildly variable when naps and sleep aren't as routine as usual. (If a family dinner is going to be later than your usual mealtime, consider feeding the littles early and sending them to bed so you can enjoy yourself!)
- Try not to make assumptions about what your toddler might eat or not eat. Give them the chance to select a few items from a big dinner or buffet because who knows, they might surprise you!
- Snack plates make excellent shortcut meals at this time of year! So do cheese and crackers, particularly at parties or big group gatherings.
- Pouches might make a royal mess while traveling. (Pack an extra shirt for yourself in case a certain small person squeezes the contents of an entire pouch all over you*...)
- Discuss feeding your child with well-meaning relatives ahead of time if possible if you have specific concerns. This can help to avoid hurt feelings in the moment.
- Keep food simple while traveling, both for comfort in new situations and in case there's any motion sickness. (I also pack extra snacks when we fly just in case we get stuck somewhere.)
- Try serving dessert with dinner if you're stressing about sweets. Serving treat food with regular food can often serve to neutralize the treat (and you might be surprised that your toddler goes back and forth between both!).
- Include a little protein and fat in each meal, snack, or dessert to avoid sugar crashes. (Because a sugar crash in a toddler = tantrum!) Serve milk with cookies, cheese with crackers, hummus with pretzels, cottage cheese or nut butter with pancakes, etc.
- Let your little one enjoy whatever food they're eating—the holidays don't last forever and none of us needs to spend the time pushing and prodding. (Parents: You should enjoy your food too!)
I know that I've said this recently, but I think it can also help to remember that the holidays—and days when eating might not be all that balanced, regular, produce-filled or normal—are temporary. So I think we should all (myself included) try to enjoy the chaos of this time of year because it's often where the extra laughter, hugs, and memories live. And know that you'll get back to normal eating here shortly!
*True story: The only two times I ever packed pouches when traveling with L I wound up with them All Over Me. They are not the best combination when flying with a 1 year old on your lap...
Happy holidays friends!