Making Thanksgiving Enjoyable For Children Too

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us be mindful to make sure the Holiday is enjoyable for our children as well.

Young children cannot sit quietly for long periods, so let them play before they eat as well as after they finish eating.  Bringing crayons and coloring books can help keep them occupied.

Encourage them to try new foods, but don’t force them to eat stuff they truly don’t like.  Try to have one thing that they like at the meal.

Model good manners to your children.  If they are old enough (3 years and up), have fun practicing good manners before Thanksgiving.  Just don’t expect perfection from young children as they are still learning and developing fine motor skills.

Let them participate in ways they can enjoy. Allow them to engage in conversations.  Ask them what they are grateful for, and talk about being grateful all year.

For young children, being in a new place and/or having a lot of people around may overwhelm them.  Be prepared to help your child take a break from all the activity.  Explain to guests that they need to respect your children’s personal space if your children aren’t comfortable hugging and kissing.  Suggest something less invasive that your children may be more comfortable with such as giving high fives.

Do your best to stick as closely to your children’s routines as possible.  Help prepare your children for changes by telling them what to expect beforehand.  When new transitions come up on Thanksgiving, be prepared to help your children get through them if they tend to struggle with transitions.

Finally, plan family activities that everyone can enjoy to encourage bonding with relatives that the children may not often see.

A few simple steps and some planning ahead can help make Thanksgiving enjoyable for all!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 118:1, NASB).

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4, KJV).

*A special note: Some of us will be grieving on Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday season as we’ve lost loved ones.  Please acknowledge, validate, and express that grief.  There is joy amidst the sorrow.  Take the time to feel the pain if needed and remember loved ones.

May everyone have a blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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Feeding Infants and Young Children

Feeding/nursing infants should be a social time (except in the night when we dream nurse/feed) for infants and parents. Infants love to gaze into our eyes while getting fed. We should softly talk to our infants while feeding them. I often see parents missing out on valuable bonding time because they do other things while nursing/feeding the infant. It’s important that we communicate to the infant that we enjoy being with him/her. It shouldn’t be a chore to nurse/feed him or her.

Asking infants if they want another bite or to nurse/drink is also important instead of shoveling food into their mouths.  I’ve seen parents shove a bottle or a spoonful of food into a baby’s mouth in order to “shut them up.”  Not only is this disrespectful, it could cause the infant to choke.

I strongly believe in feeding infants and toddlers when they are hungry.  Their stomachs are small.  They need to eat more frequently than we do and have smaller portions.  They also get dehydrated quicker than adults.  I also believe we shouldn’t force children to finish their meals.  Forcing infants and young children to ignore their hunger and satiation cues can mess up their body and lead to eating disorders later on.

While encouraging children to try new foods is important, I don’t think it’s fair to force children to eat foods that they truly dislike.  I also understand making a whole separate meal for them isn’t practical, so we should do our best to include one dish within the meal that the child likes.  For picky eaters, and really all children, letting them have a say a couple nights a week as to what they want for dinner as well as allowing them to be an active part in meal prep can go a long way in encouraging healthy eating.

Finally, try not to scrape food off infants and toddlers’ mouths with the spoon. I have to be fed myself and I don’t allow people to scrape food off my mouth and chin. It feels gross and isn’t respectful. Wipe their mouth with a cloth. Telling them before you wipe them mouths helps them cooperate slightly better.

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