Welcome to YTF Community, a place to safely share in the challenges and joys of feeding our families. If you’re looking for recipes, feel free to go right to the home page of yummytoddlerfood.com.

With the start of the school year and the amount of lunch content (and just feeding kids content) in general that I share online, I wanted to pause to say something that I feel really strongly about today:

Feeding our kids is not a competition. And the more we can learn to compare and contrast less, the easier the whole endeavor can feel. Stay with me a sec.

Mini muffins on plate with strawberries.

A while ago, I shared an image in my IG stories of a green smoothie that one of my kids tried after years of not trying any smoothies. I was delighted at their bravery. And then someone messaged to say that her kids enjoy smoothies…but that mine “looked healthier”*.

A few weeks ago on Instagram, a blogger I like shared a photo of her child’s lunch and called it “healthy-ish” because in addition to lots of produce and whole grains, there were pretzels*.

A mom friend of mine recently apologized for serving ketchup with our Indian chicken dinner because it was the only way that her daughter would eat the chicken.

I think I’ve decided that most of the time, these sorts of comments are simply parents wanting confirmation that they’re doing okay. Because so many of the messages we constantly hear are telling us that we’re not—that we need to do better. And we are being programmed to doubt ourselves. All day long.

I don’t know quite how to bridge this gap since I am just one voice in the sea of many voices online, but I do want to say:

You’re doing enough. Your food is good enough. Feeding kids has phases and you are likely in one now that you will only recognize in retrospect.

And whatever you decide is right for any one kid or your family today or this week or next month IS the right decision for you, regardless of whether anyone else would make the same call. Because we each have a different context that makes our situations unique. And that means that we’re always making decisions with a different set of parameters. We can take inspiration and tips from each other, but I so hope we can get to a place where doing so stops meaning that we’re telling ourselves that we’ve been doing it wrong.

There is no one right way to do any of this. Your choice might be different than how I would do it, but it’s not actually a competition.

And I do know that generally speaking, it can be a challenge to help kids learn to like a wide variety of food and to feed a family in general. But as parents, I really want us to try harder to stop pitting ourselves against each other.

And against ourselves.

So with all of the lunch and back-to-school content online right now, please know that the main goal of any kids lunch should be that it’s easy for the child to eat it—and enjoy it. Everything else—vegetables in the shape of animals, sandwich roll ups, and all the rest—is extra. Whether or not you do any of it is completely fine.

(*There is nothing wrong with including pretzels in a lunch. There is also nothing wrong with ketchup!)

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