With holidays approaching, it’s more difficult to keep to the regular routine of feeding your family. You may be going away or having a break from work and school. The usual rush in the morning and the pressure to get a meal on the table in the evening dies down. For young children, the everyday routine is still important. Unfortunately for you, they will get up just as early as the rest of the year. So they need to be fed just as they would normally: five meals a day, have at least a break of two to three hours between meals, let your child eat as much or as little as they want before ending the meal. For older children, going to bed later and getting up later may change their usual mealtimes. Your child/ren might eat breakfast later, skip having morning tea and have a ‘supper’ snack in the evening, depending on what time you have dinner. However it’s best to stick to the routine as much as possible. It’s important to remember that if kids eat in between mealtimes, they will be less hungry when they get to the next meal. That’s OK so long as you don’t pressure them to eat more than they want.
Then there are treat foods and plenty of them at this time of the year. If your child is used to a treat food being served on a regular basis, (once every day or two) at mealtimes: foods such as a couple of biscuits, a scoop of ice cream, a muffin or piece of cake, they are less likely to overeat on the treat foods at holiday time. It is usually children who are restricted, both to the amount of food and to treat foods in general that are more likely to overeat.
You may find yourself in situations where there are mostly unfamiliar foods on offer at a meal and none of them are foods that your child usually eats. It’s a good idea to make sure there is bread available. Ask your host if they have some bread and butter or bring a sandwich that you know your child will eat if they are hungry. Don’t worry if they don’t eat anything, celebrations don’t happen every day. They may be distracted by having so many other people around, overwhelmed by the louder than usual noise or just wanting to play with the other kids.
Another common situation is where there are lots of children at a meal and each family has their own eating ‘rules’. For example, your child may be used to eating food only when seated at the table, whereas another child may be used to eating whilst playing. It’s OK to break the rules on special occasions. It’s hard for you and your child to stick to the ‘rules’ when everyone else is ‘breaking them’.
Most importantly, have a happy festive season.