Being invited to other kids’ birthday parties can be an exciting opportunity for your little one, but it may also make you anxious about the kind of food your baby will eat there. Party food often consists of ultra-processed, sugary, and less-than-healthy foods.
As a parent, you try hard to offer a nourishing diet to your child. If it’s a party you’re hosting, you may even be able to choose healthier menu options to serve, but you have no control over the food served at other people’s parties. What do you do then? How much should you toddler indulge in those?
Today we will discuss just that. Parties should be a place to have fun, mingle, and make memories. They should not be a source of stress!
Understanding Your Little Eater
1) Trust your toddler's intuition: Toddlers are remarkably good at self-regulation when it comes to eating. They instinctively recognize when they're hungry, full, and when to stop eating. Give your child the autonomy or control to decide how much they wish to eat.
2) Approach to food: Children's approach to food is very different from that of us adults. Unlike Now, let’s look at tips that can help you confidently manage your toddler's food choices when attending birthday parties.
Tips for a Stress-Free Party Experience
1) Focus on what babies eat at home: Special occasions like birthday parties are occasional indulgences, so don’t worry much about what your toddler is eating once in a while. While you have no control over the menu at someone else's party, you can ensure your baby eats nourishing food most of the time (at home). Embrace the 90-10 rule, where 90% of your child's diet is nourishing, and 10% has room for less nutritious treats.
2) Avoid controlling what babies eat at parties: We don't want to make children feel like these foods are off-limits. Instead of simply saying "no" to certain foods they want to try (which might give those foods a negative reputation for your baby), try guiding them in finding a balanced mix of foods.
For instance, if there's a buffet, go around with your toddler and help them choose a variety of items – include more of the healthier options and a smaller portion of the party treats. This can be a valuable learning experience for your child.
3) Feed them at home before the party: You can also have your toddler eat at home before going to the party. If you're uncertain about the food options at the party or whether your toddler will enjoy them, ensure they have a proper meal at home beforehand. This way, they might not eat as much at the party. If they snack or try different foods at the party because others are doing so, that's perfectly fine.
4) Lead by example: Parents are key role models for their babies. Your baby is observing and likely to follow your food choices at the party, so reach out for the healthier food options when possible.
5) Pack your own snacks: If you have concerns about the availability of healthy food or if your baby has aversions or allergies, it’s best to pack your toddler's favorite snacks and take them with you.
6) Relax and have fun: Last but not least, don't let stress overshadow these precious moments. Remember, these get-togethers are opportunities for you and your baby to create fantastic long-lasting memories.
The kind of experience your baby will have depends in large part on the kind of experience you have! Babies can sense your anxiety, so it’s a good idea to be relaxed and have fun at the event. After all, a happy and carefree atmosphere is the best gift you can give your little one.
Remember, these are after all occasional indulgences, which are part of our life. They are also great learning opportunities for your baby.