Raising Kids is Tough : Eating Battles

All Ages4 Comments

For the Raising Kids is Tough series, August has been all about your Eating Battles. This is the final edition of Eating Battles.

This week are all the questions that came in throughout the month and I’ve posted on Facebook to have fans, as well as the experts, give you their answers!

The Hands On Experts:

These hands on experts have given their professional and personal answers to help lessen your eating battles that you submitted.

Your Eating Battles:

  • Dinner Table Battles
  • Going Out to Eat
  • Picky Eaters
  • Healthy Snacks 
  • More Eating Battles (The Experts’ advice below) :
    • Eating Independence
    • Slow Eating
    • Constant Hunger
    • Eating Manners

(Do you have a question that wasn’t listed? Submit your Raising Kids is Tough questions!)

The experts each chose a couple questions to give their input on, some questions have answers from multiple experts, while others may only have one expert’s advice.


Managing time at the table… I have a bunch of young kiddos and it seems I spend the majority of the meal cutting up food, refilling water, spoon-feeding… I guess I’d love tips on helping them be more independent. — asked by QuirkyMomma

This advice and helpful tips come from two experts:

Food Expert (Sarah from Füdoo Boards) :No matter how many or how old your kids are, nurturing independence at the dinner table will always pay off later on. What I mean is, as they grow older, they will be able to take on greater responsibilities at the table, and to exhibit more developed manners and table skills because you let them work on simple tasks early on. Here are a couple ideas I am always passing on:

  1. I use small cups to serve food to very young children. They are easy for them to grasp, not overwhelming to eat out of and CONTAINED! For toddlers, try serving veggies in cocktail sauce steel cups (Walmart-cheap). For yogurt or cereal, use a small pudding cup or ramekin and small spoon. Have all the cups ready to go ahead of mealtime and have the oldest child pass out the cups. If someone doesn’t finish something, it is easy to throw in the fridge until they are hungry again at snack time. Are you up for more fun? Let your oldest children wash the cups in the sink.
  2. Water – I’m glad you are serving water with your meals. I bet you are brave enough to start pouring lessons, at least with the oldest children in your group. Start looking for small pouring vessels like tea pots, small milk carafes, or creamers. Let your children practice pouring water into their own cups. Put your hands around theirs in order to help at first. If it spills, it is only water. I keep my children’s cups at the table all day for when they get thirsty. They have learned to get a cold small pitcher of water out of the fridge and fill up their cup. Their friends like to come over and help themselves to water too.

— Sarah, Fudoo Boards

Parenting Expert (Erin from The Intentional Parent) :If the child is very young, and needs to be fed, you could try feeding them just before everybody sits down to eat, and then giving them some finger foods duing the meal. You could try to plan ahead, as Jamie said, get everything ready before they sit down (food cut, glasses of water on the table).If they are still asking for something every few minutes at the table, I would then try to make them wait a while, and not jump up immediately for unnecessary water refills (“Okay, I’ll get you some more water in 5 minutes, keep eating”).With kids a bit older (and if they are asking for help at the table, refills on water etc. excessively) it is usually about attention. Depending on their ages, you can also enlist their help in setting up and preparing the meal (even a 2 year old will have fun helping you set the table).– Erin, The Intentional Parent

Add to the discussion:
More answers (from myself and others!) are on the note: Raising Kids is Tough : Eating Independence found on the hands on : as we grow Facebook community.

Here’s my question — HOW DO I GET MY VERY SLOW DAUGHTER TO EAT IN LESS THAN AN HOUR? Seriously!!!! She forgets what she’s doing, fork held mid-air gazing off into the distance. How will she survive school lunch if she needs someone to jump start her every five minutes??? She’s thin — and needs to eat!  — asked by Karen

This advice and helpful tips come from one expert:

Food Expert (Sarah from Füdoo Boards) :Okay Karen, it sounds like she may not be hungry enough to eat with gusto (This was already mentioned as a possibility). It is great to see hungry children sit down to eat their dinner. Is she eating snacks right up to dinnertime? What time are you able to eat dinner?

My family’s eating schedule runs like clockwork. We eat breakfast at 7am. Small snack at 10:30 (if the kids are hungry). Lunch at noon. Snack at 3ish (they are usually hungrier here, so a medium size snack). Kitchen is closed after this snack until dinner. Dinner at 5:30-6. They are hungry and ready to eat again. The trick is to quit hanging around the food and snacks once snack is over. Time to get outside and go play!

If this isn’t the problem, you might want to try engaging her in more conversation about the food and activities about eating her food. The füdoo Board, works great for keeping a family focused on what they are eating meal by meal. Also, make sure you are sitting down together and using meal time as talking time, instead of trying to get dishes done, surfing the web, or talking to only adults. Good luck!

— Sarah, Fudoo Boards

Add to the discussion:
More answers are on the note: Raising Kids is Tough : Slow Eating found on the hands on : as we grow Facebook community.


My children seem to CONSTANTLY be hungry. I try to only keep healthy snacks in the house, but I’m starting to get frustrated with the amount of grazing that goes on. I’ve taken to putting up a baby gate at the door of the kitchen with a big sign that reads “KITCHEN CLOSED!” Should I be concerned about this?
— asked by Kristin@SenseofWonder

This advice and helpful tips come from one expert:

Mom Expert (Jill from A Mom with a Lesson Plan) :A while back I read an article about grazing. It was written by a pediatrician who believes grazing is actually very good for kids. He suggested setting out a muffin tin with fruits, veggies and pretzels and leaving it out all day for the kids to come and go. I am far to scheduled for that to work around me (I did consider it though.) Let me know if you try it…I’d love to see it in action!– Jill, A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Add to the discussion:
More answers are on the note: Raising Kids is Tough : Constant Hunger found on the hands on : as we grow Facebookcommunity.

MY QUESTION HAS TO DO WITH MANNERS/HOW TO ACT AT THE TABLE… I have a 2 and 3 year old boy. My three year old is super messy and has his hands on everything around him. He puts his spoon up in the air and feeds off his brother to get into trouble. I feel like we spend most of our time when eating…”correcting” almost to the point of feeling like I’m nagging. How much should we expect from them and what can we do to encourage good eating habits without correcting the whole time?  — asked by Anne

This advice and helpful tips come from two experts:

Teaching Expert (Deborah from Teach Preschool) :This is such a good question! One thing I would like to suggest is to teach eating habits at other times and long before you get to the dinner table. There are a variety of times you can focus on this issue and by doing so, when you get to the dinner table, rather teaching your expectations at the table, you can be focused on reinforcing what you have have been teaching all along.
For example:

  1. Role play manners with your child in a fun way. Have a tea party or set out playdough and real dishes for practicing skills and manners. Use play opportunities to have simple conversations about manners. Any time you get the chance to work on manners through play then use the opportunity to “teach” or reinforce your message on manners but without the pressure of a real meal in front of you.
  2. Teach your child silly rhymes during snack times or other times when you are eating that reinforce good eating habits like “Chew with your mouth closed or food might come out your nose!” or “Only touch your own food or someone might think your rude!” or “Open your napkin big and wide so I can put a cookie inside.”Rhymes are fun way of reinforcing your expectations and help the child remember what they should be doing or not be doing.
  3. Before even sitting down for dinner take a moment for a calm down time. If you are up running around it stimulates chaos. So set the table, have dinner ready to serve but don’t let anyone at the table yet. Then have everyone sit down on the couch and take a deep breath and say very quietly. “Now take my hand and let’s sit down together.”

For those of you who hold hands and pray before a meal – this also serves as a way to calm down and focus on eating as a family. If you sit down on the couch before the meal begins – you can quietly say things like “I am so happy we get to eat together as a family – let’s all tip toe to the table so we can be together.” In other words – come to the table calm and have the table ready rather than come to the table and have a whole list of things you still have to do. Your calmness and organization will help everyone be more relaxed. But be prepared for something to go wrong and still stay calm.

I hope some of these ideas help. They are out of the box but when breaking bad habits or establishing good habits with really young children you have to be willing to make unusual efforts and think outside the box.

— Deborah, Teach Preschool

Food Expert (Sarah from Füdoo Boards) :Here’s my 2 cents, okay 5 cents. Teaching table manners starts as soon as your child is sitting at the dinner table in a high chair. We start using our please and thank yous, knowing this is where we can begin to model the behavior we want to see exhibited by the child. But what can we really expect from a 2-3 year old child? The basics. Holding a spoon properly, not throwing food, not spitting out food, and saying please and thank you are good places to begin. If it helps you, make a short list of five table manners that you think your child and family can work on together. Using a list (for yourself) keeps the focus on simple manners and you being able to watch how these behaviors develop. Using this list you can choose to correct your child, ignore the behavior (not every misbehavior needs correction), or fix the behavior without speaking about it, and then move on with your family’s meal. Try not to feed control issues or get overly upset. I don’t like feeling like a nag either. If your child engages in behavior that is unacceptable to you, try removing him or her from the table. Then they miss out on the fun. And, yes, mealtime can be fun (well most of the time). Try a couple of these ideas to get your child committed to having a nice meal with the family where he is fully engaged and appreciated.

  1. Use a füdoo Board. I invented the füdoo Board so families like yours (and mine) can make meals healthy, fun, learning times for kids and their parents. Check out the website to see how you can talk about the food you are eating, what it is doing for you, and your plans for the rest of the day.
  2. Give positive reinforcement for behaviors you like to see. If your family has a füdoo Board you can use the New! reward magnet when your child tries a new food. You can give a high five at the end of a productive meal with your child. You can even just let your family know how much you enjoyed sharing a meal with them. Remember, dessert is fine, but don’t use it as the reward.
  3. Use a family tradition that the child can lead before dinner. My son created a family candle out of clay at age four. He is now eight and we still light it at most dinners to begin our time together. Check out our activities on our website under fudooland. Making a family candle is one of them. If you have very young children, I suggest putting the candle up on a shelf or counter near your dinner table for safety. We set ours in the middle of the dinner table. You can also use the blowing out of the candle as positive reinforcement for a meal where no food was thrown. I also grew up in a family that sang grace led by one of us children every night. I’ll never forget that tradition!
  4. Another way of engaging a child in the meal is to have them try new ways of eating. We have a family set of beginner chopsticks that even three year olds can use. Talk about small motor exercises! They are called “Zoo Sticks”. A young child will concentrate more on the exercise then causing a commotion at the table. They are great to use with chunks of things, like pineapple chunks, cheese chunks, veggie chunks, etc.
  5. Let them pour the water. This is also an activity on the füdoo Boards website. Find a creamer pitcher, or small teapot to start them off. You will need to help hold it for starters, but your child will get the hang of it early on, even at three! Let them pour their water from the creamer into their cup. They may even want to do this in their free time. When my daughter was young I would fill up her pitcher and put a couple cups on a tray at the kitchen table. I could make dinner while she was busy pouring. Now, at five, she sets the table and pours water for everyone from our family pitcher. Kids can do these things! These activities will put your child in the driver’s seat so he can shift from the negative to the positive gear.

— Sarah, Fudoo Boards

Add to the discussion:
More answers (from Erin of The Intentional Parent, and others) are on the note: Raising Kids is Tough : Eating Manners found on the hands on : as we grow Facebook community.

Thank you experts (and the Facebook Community!) for your extensive knowledge!
These experts are very much appreciated for giving their time to answer these questions on hands on : as we grow. Please check out their websites.

Next Monday, we’re shifting gears to Unwanted Behaviors. From unwanted advice/discipline from outside sources to boys fighting to nagging from your children! All sorts of advice will be given, I can’t wait to see what the experts will say!
I’ll also be posting each of the questions on the hands on : as we grow Facebook Community as I publish them, so you can give your input as well!

Thank you to all the readers who have submitted questions! – any additional questions that come throughout the month on Unwanted Behaviors will be posted on the Facebook community and I’ll do a summary post like this at the end of the month again!

Head over and submit your question
(All topics are welcome, just use the ‘Other’ category!)

Ready for fun with your kids?

Plan the fun with the free kids activities planner! And receive activities every week!

I'm Ready

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *