Whining While Dining
Use patience with picky eaters while on vacation
After the first birthday, a child’s appetite wanes. The growth rate slows and calorie needs decrease. You may find your toddler becoming more picky and resistive to certain foods. Even the old standby favorites you’ve come to rely on can be rejected on a random day. Traveling away from home can put extra stress on these mealtime struggles.
Easier said than done, but try not to worry if your tot’s eating habits are erratic and don’t obsess about each day’s nutritional intake. Gauge it more on a weekly basis, ensuring that a variety of healthy foods are consumed in that time frame.
Mom was right – kids won’t starve themselves, and you’ll probably find if junior eats like a bird one day, he or she will have a voracious appetite a day or two later. 1000 calories from milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and other healthy foods spread throughout 3 meals and 2 snacks a day is the goal.
Try to avoid presenting too many junky snacks, if not for the nutritional aspect but for the behavioral one – high sugar, artificially colored and flavored foods tend to make children hyperactive, which is not a good state to be in when in transit, at a public attraction or at grandma’s house. Occasional treats are fine (everything in moderation, especially while on vacation!), but a steady diet of junk, no matter how yummy, is ill-advised.
Toddlers are not known for their table manners, and they’ll no doubt give you plenty of whine with their cheese. The trick is to not let them get too hungry, thirsty, bored or tired – a tall order, but if you can anticipate needs and stay a step ahead, it’ll make mealtime more pleasant. Just like when they were babies, you’ll still need to bring a kit of bibs, wipes, a change of clothes and some small toy distractions (see entertainment section) with you when you dine at restaurants or are guests at a friend or relative’s home.
Be sensitive to differing cultural attitudes to young children in restaurants and ask a local to suggest a family-tolerant establishment for you to eat at. This doesn’t mean you’re restricted to fast food and family chains, but adjustments such as having your main meal at noon or choosing an outdoor sidewalk café might be in order.
You’ll probably need a high chair or booster seat of some sort if you want your toddler to join you at the table. Many restaurants have high chairs but make sure you inspect it for missing straps, rusty table trays, sharp edges and other safety hazards before placing your child in it. Consider traveling with a portable high chair that straps onto a big chair or hooks onto the table edge if you are in a place that might not have acceptable high chairs on hand. You’ll have to remove all weaponry from your toddler’s grab zone – knives, forks, water glasses, candles, salt shakers and the like.
Having your own kitchen facilities helps save money and the hassle of eating out all the time with a toddler – just one or two meals a day at “home” can relieve the pressure and make for a more sane trip for all. At the very least, a fridge means you can store milk, cheese, and fruit for a quick family breakfast or lunch. Give yourselves the occasional night in by ordering room service or take-out. And don’t forget, picnics are perfect for toddlers.