This Father’s Day lets applaud the other fantastic feeder in a child’s life…dad! Dads play a meaningful role in influencing their children’s food preferences and shaping their feeding routine. Studies show that if dad regularly eats meals with their family they feel more involved and responsible for the feeding, health and growth of their child. Let’s discover some other ways dads rock it when feeding their kids!
Feeding Diversity: In my practice as a Feeding Specialist, I go into a lot of homes to help a child who is struggling to eat. In most cases, the child won’t eat for anyone other than mom. Poor mom can’t get sick, go out of town or have any plan that interferes with the child’s eating schedule. Giving dad the opportunity to feed his child is one of the first things I work on in feeding therapy. It is important for the health and wellbeing of your child to have multiple people who can feed them successfully – and dads do a great job nourishing too!
Fun Tools: When I ask parents to think outside the box to encourage their children to try new foods and liquids, dads know how to make it exciting and fun. We are talking squirt guns filled with healthy green juice, water balloon fights filled with a new puree and even a slip-and-slide game where the child slides into instant mashed potatoes! As crazy as these real life examples are, all of the kids ate or drank those foods afterwards. Win for dad and big win for the child who is now willing to explore foods in a safe, enjoyable way!
Fresh Air: Between barbecuing, picnicking and camping, dads seem to love cooking and eating outside. Guess what? Kids do too! The novelty of eating outdoors and the energy of the environment makes trying new foods less stressful for kids. Dads have a way of making outdoor eating fun with great music, cold drinks, cool lighting, fancy BBQ tools and, of course, a goofy apron. A silly and supportive feeding environment can prevent picky eating tendencies and influence a child to be a more adventurous eater.
Fixings: Dads are oftentimes known for making chili, hotdogs, bean dips and other ‘super bowl’ foods as a cool treat for kids. But a lot of moms I work with don’t want their picky eaters consuming such unhealthy foods. The key to balanced family nutrition is to offer all foods from all food categories and allow your child to make choices based on the sensory and taste preferences they have. We can establish good eating habits once kids who are hesitant about new foods have more foods to choose from and are willing to eat consistently. Making sure your children get the proper nourishment and food diversity (including an occasional kid-approved treat!) is important.
Fisherman: Going fishing with dad can be an exciting trip filled with ‘firsts,’ like catching a fish, going in a canoe or holding a wiggly worm. Fond memories and precious bonding time with dad can be beneficial when cooking the fish at home and offering this new taste to your toddler. Have your child tell stories from his/her trip with dad while they eat the yummy meal in front of them. Major protein score!
Tell us how dad is a fantastic feeder in your home. What other ways do dads rock it at mealtime?