Welcome back to Intuitive Tuesday, thank you for following along with this little series!

intuitive tuesday

I mentioned last week that I wanted to chat about Lochlyn, and more specifically, teaching your little ones to eat intuitively.

This topic came up as I found myself starting to care more about Lochlyn’s weight. My little baby is not so little anymore. At one point Lochlyn was very small for her age. Not only was she small, but she wasn’t growing as quickly as her doctor would have liked. Between 0 and 5 months, Lochlyn was actually steadily dropping on the growth charts. At five months old was sitting around the 4th percentile. This was a bit worrisome as she was somewhere around the 85th percentile when she was born (she weighed 8 pounds).

4 months old

 

Four months old

I started feeding Lochlyn solid foods a bit early as per my doctor’s recommendations. I focused on feeding her calorie dense foods. I praised her for eating a lot, and encouraged her to eat everything I made for her. She grew like crazy.

nine months

 

Nine months old

Eventually I stopped focusing on feeding Lochlyn calorie dense foods, but I still try to feed her balanced meals. I don’t encourage her to clear her plate, but she often does by throwing whatever she doesn’t want to eat on the floor! I wish that I didn’t worry so much about Lochlyn gaining weight when she was younger, or trying to get her to eat as much as possible. I guess I learned my lesson and I will remember it for the future.

twelve months

12 months old

In the past 9 months Lochlyn has gone from the 4th percentile to the 98th percentile. This has been so hard with clothes – I feel like she only wears an outfit a couple times before she grows out of it! It also made me stop to consider her eating habits. This has also been hard for me. I know Lochlyn is healthy, and happy, but I was worried about how heavy she was. I constantly have to remind myself that weight isn’t the issue, as much as eating habits. I also have to remind myself that I weighed 30 pounds at one year old, and 33 pounds at 2 years old. Her body will regulate itself.

fifteen months

Lochlyn today

Anyways, last week I decided I needed to pay more attention to how Lochlyn was eating, and how I was feeding her. I very quickly realized that I wasn’t encouraging her to eat intuitively. Without intending to, I was limiting certain foods, and trying to get her to eat more “nutritious” food, even if she didn’t want to.

For example, my sweet little girl absolutely loves bananas. We always have a bowl of bananas sitting on our counter, and often at meal time, she is more interested in the bowl of bananas, than what I have prepared for her. I have always allowed her to eat bananas, but I would stop her at one banana a day. I usually wouldn’t offer her a banana until after she finished her meal. Sounds like typical parenting, but this doesn’t really equate to intuitive eating…

I noticed I was doing this with other types of food as well. I would allow Lochlyn to eat anything that she wanted, but I would ration it. I wasn’t starving her, I would just try to get her to eat other foods instead of the food that she really wanted. If she didn’t show an interest in a more “nutritious” type of food, I would feed it to her myself on and spoon, and force her to at least taste it.

Lochlyn is not a picky eater, she eats everything. The only food she doesn’t like is salmon (weirdo). Sometimes she just prefers one type of food to another.

funny cake picture

Last week I made the decision to start encouraging Lochlyn to eat intuitively. I decided that the best way to do this would be to offer Lochlyn a few different types of foods at meal time, and allow her to choose what she would like to eat, and how much of it she wanted. The first meal I tried this with was breakfast. I offered her peanut butter toast, plain yogurt, and banana slices. Of course, Lochlyn immediately pointed at the bananas, indicating that she wanted them. I allowed her to eat a full banana. Once it was gone, she pointed at the bowl of bananas on the counter. I sliced up another one, and offered it to her. She ate the entire thing, and then again, pointed at the bowl. I offered her another one, and she proceeded to eat the entire thing. She then ate some of her toast and yogurt, and was satisfied.

Since this meal, I have been offering her bananas a couple times a day, and I have found that her interest in them is starting to dwindle. Her three bananas went down to two, and then one. Last night, she was satisfied after eating only half of a banana.

I realized that because I wasn’t allowing Lochlyn to eat as much banana as she wanted, she would eat every last bite every time I offered it to her. This also went for other foods, like cheese, avocado, and other types of fruit. After only a week of allowing Lochlyn to eat freely I have noticed a big difference. She no longer eats every single bite of her favourite foods. She is satisfied with less.

I do want to point out that the reason why I am encouraging Lochlyn to eat intuitively isn’t so that she will eat less. I am okay with Lochlyn’s weight, and that she is growing so quickly. I have a big, beautiful, healthy baby, and that is awesome! My concern is that I want her to have a healthy relationship with food. I don’t want to teach her to restrict food from an early age, or that food needs to be rationed. I don’t want to pass any of my disordered eating habits on to her.

Sometimes this isn’t easy. I actually think feeding your children intuitively can be harder than learning to eat that way yourself. It isn’t harder for kids to learn, but harder for parents to give up the control, and allow their kids to make their own decisions. It seems wrong to allow a very chubby toddler to eat whatever they want to, but I believe that limiting food intake causes some serious problems.

bikini babe

I have so much more to say about this subject, but I think I will save it for another day. Next week I plan to talk about more practical steps to take to teach your little one to eat intuitively. I would love to hear your advice in the comments too!

 

What are your biggest challenges with teaching your child to eat intuitively? What are your favourite tips?

Anyone else deal with weight issues with their baby/kids?

 

3 Comments on Teaching a Toddler to Eat Intuitively

  1. This post really hits home! As someone who is working hard on intuitive eating myself, I am trying to make sure to raise my son (now 9 months old) to NEVER have the same issues with food that I have had. Like you, though, I have ended up doing the instinctive thing to try to help him gain weight (he was born 3 weeks early, so he was a tiny thing from the start, and he’s had food sensitivities that made his weight gain slow down around 3 months — he’s still under the 1% for his weight!). Now that he’s eating solids, I find myself trying to fatten up his meals with avocado, olive oil, butter, etc. — and encourage him to keep eating more when he’s clearly not interested. He’s just never been a huge eater, even with nursing. I’m slowly learning to respect that, though, because he’s happy and healthy and developing beautifully. I want to be in tune with him and his needs, and not let my own anxieties start to change his own instincts about what he needs. But it’s so very hard! I think you’re doing all the right things now. I spoke with a nutritionist recently who advocated the very same approach — offer all of the foods, even the “bad” ones, and kids will take what they need. They may not have a balanced day, but they’ll inevitably have a balanced week. Their little bodies are just programmed for intuitive eating in ways we should just study and admire. Sounds like Lochlynn is doing that beautifully for you! And my little man is giving me some important lessons, too. Thanks so much for this post! I’m sure it was tough to write, but many of us can surely relate.

    • That is awesome that you have found a nutritionist that advocates intuitive eating from such a young age. I wish that I would have allowed Lochlyn to eat more intuitively during her first year, but I guess I learned a lot from our experience. I am happy to hear that your little one is healthy – that is the most important thing! Isn’t it true that our babies can teach us if we are willing to learn. I have had to reevaluate my relationship with food, so that I am setting a good example for her. Thanks for the comment!

  2. As I observe little children more and more, I think I’ve realized how good they are at listening to their bodies. I think it’s often when we grow up, that we start to listen to peer pressure on eating and dieting and such before we actually listen to our bodies.

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