Maybe you’re packing your first preschool lunchbox. Or logging on to top up your elementary schooler’s lunch account. Or trying to figure out what your toddler ate at daycare all day…sending your kids out to eat their midday meal in the world can be tricky! We’re talking about how to navigate this new facet of your child’s relationship with food, and what to do about all the new food messages they’ll bring home from school in this episode of the Comfort Food podcast.
You can download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, or wherever else you get your podcasts. or listen to it below! Then use this page to check out any links, notes, or tips we referenced.
Tips for Packing Toddler and Big Kid Lunches
This episode is about navigating some of the potentially fraught dynamics involved in school and daycare lunches — but since I know many of you still need ideas for what the heck your kids can eat, here are a few of my favorite posts with ideas for packing lunches.
What Kids Can Learn from Buying Lunch
I talk about how we’ve had to find a balance between homemade lunches and purchased ones due to FOMO. And honestly, this not only makes my life easier (one less thing to do!) but it also give my big girl more control over her own food choices within a context that has boundaries. I love hearing about her lunches—which yes, sometimes include Walking Tacos. (The one above is from Eating Well. The ones at our school are served with baked chips, just in the spirit of authenticity.)
Try a Lunchbox Note
Sometimes, well-meaning school staff can inadvertently fuel a child’s food anxieties by making comments or rules about how they eat the lunch you send from home. If that’s happening, we think your best bet is to visit school at lunchtime and share the meal with your kid’s class, so you can see what’s going on for yourself before you talk through any concerns. But if that doesn’t work (or it’s not an option with your work schedule), we also love this idea from feeding therapists Jenny McGlothlin & Katja Rowell to send in a friendly note in the lunchbox to help communicate more about the food environment you have at home and the one you’re hoping for at school.
Dear ____________, Please don’t ask __________________ to eat more or different foods than she/he wants. Please let her eat as much as she wants of any of the foods I pack, in any order, even if she eats nothing or only dessert. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at _______________. Thank you
You may also want to check out the Flavour School program in the UK, which is devoted to teaching kids about food and flavor through sensory education. It’s based on a French approach called the SAPERE method. Basically, instead of focusing on good/bad or I like/I don’t like, kids are taught to approach foods with all five senses and focus on sharing meals while respecting people’s different preferences. Seems like a great idea to us!
What’s New this Week
Sand Timers: Virginia mentioned that these are helping her 5 year old with bedtime and other transitions… and buying her a little extra time to eat her own meals at the dinner table! We think they might even help when you need to focus on meal prep. I love them for helping my kids to get out the door in the morning!
Normal Picky Eating: I feel like I say this all the time, but I think it’s important to remember that most kids are pickier between the ages of 2-6. This is a 100% normal phase of development. This doesn’t mean they have a problem or that they’ll never eat a wider range of foods. Hang in there and who knows, you might wind up with a 6 year old who will happily eat a burger with lettuce AND cheese at the same time! (Funny how such a simple thing can feel so huge.)
Keep in touch and let us know what you thought of the episode! Comment below, rate and review us on iTunes or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question you’d like us to tackle in a future show.